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UNIVERSAL 

LIBRARY 


OU 210443 


UNIVERSAL 

LIBRARY 




OSMANIA' UNTVraSIiY UERARY 

Accession No. If rr. 





THE PURSUER 



Books by Louis Golding 


NOVELS 

FORWARD FROM BABYLON 
SEACOAST OF BOHEMIA 
DAY OF ATONEMENT 
STORE OF LADIES 
THE MIRACLE BOY 
THE PRINCE OR SOMEBODY 
GIVE UP YOUR LOVERS 
MAGNOLIA STREET 
FIVE SILVER DAUGHTERS 
THE CAMBERWELL BEAUTY 


SHORT STORIES 
THE DOOMINGTON WANDERER 


VERSE 

SORROW OF WAR 
SHEPHERD SINGING RAGTIME 
PROPHET OR FOOL 


TRAVEL 

SUNWARD; ADVENTURES IN ITALY 
SICILIAN NOON 

THOSE ANCIENT LANDS: A JOURNEY 
TO PALESTINE 


BELLES LETTRES 

ADVENTURES IN LIVING DANGEROUSLY 
JAMES JOYCE 



THE PURSUER 

by 

LOUIS GOLDING 


LONDON 

VICTOR ’GOLLANCZ LTD 



First published January 6th igsF 
Second impression January 6th ig$6 
Third impression February igg6 
Fourth impression {first cheap edition) February iggy 


Printed in Great Britain by 

The Camelot Press Ltd., London and Southampton 



CHAPTER I 


I 

Wjiat is he running after me for? Harry Wace 
asked of himself. What have I done to him ? I’ve 
never seen him in my life before ! He’ll kill me if he 
catches me ! 

Why doesn’t he stop? Why doesn’t he turn round 
and bung me in the face ? the other small boy asked 
of himself. Then I’d bung him in the face. Then we 
could play together in the croft and find new oceans and 
mountains together. 

The breath of the pursuer was hot on the neck 
of the pursued. Why doesn’t he catch me ? asked 
Harry Wace in his anguish. It hurts me. I can’t go 
kny more. If he’d catch me, he’d hit me. And then he’d 
stop hitting me. 

If I put my hand out I could catch him by his coat, 
gloated the other small boy. But I won’t. Let him 
turn round and bung me in the face. Besides, it’s fun. 


There were other small boys than these two 
running down Blenheim Road towards Bridge- 
ways, four in the group of the pursuers, three 



8 


THE PURSUER 


in the group of the pursued. Pursuers and pur- 
sued had never set eyes on each other before. 
The pursued were pupils of the Blenheim Road 
Elementary School. It was an up-to-date school. 
They had a big room specially fitted up for wood- 
work. No other school in the neighbourhood 
had one. They were rather objectionable about 
it. 

The pursuing boys came from a school about 
a mile away up the Blenheim Road, in Longton. 
They were a better class of boys, their fathers 
were clerks and artisans. But they had no wood- 
work room. As soon as they went up into Standard 
Seven, they had to make an excursion every 
Friday morning to do an hour’s woodwork in 
the Blenheim Road School. They did not like it. 
The boys of the Blenheim Road neighbourhood 
were shabby and not many of them wore collars. 
It was a slum, in fact. 

The Longton boys usually went back in a body 
after the woodwork hour. If they did not, some- 
times there were fights. It was a new bafch of 
boys who had come down to Blenheim Road 
this particular morning. Most of them were glad 
to get back to the heights of Longton, in fact 
most of them had already gone. But Sidney 
Sharpies hung about. He was alert and interested. 
It interested him that the gravel of the playground 
was not like the gravel up at Longton. The red 



THE PURSUER 


9 

brick was redder. He liked faces, too. It was only 
a penny tram-ride or ten minutes’ walk down the 
hill from his own home, yet the faces round here 
were different. 

There was a boy about Sharpies’s age leaning 
up against the playground wall. He was about 
eleven, too. He had a rather pale, heavy face, 
and brown-gold hair, the fringe of which escaped 
untidily under the peak. Sidney Sharpies’s hair 
was black and smooth and carefully brushed. 
The boy with the brown-gold hair was in no 
hurry to get back to his dinner. Perhaps he hadn’t 
much of a dinner to get back to. He just stood 
against the wall and did nothing. His eyes were 
grey ^nd didn’t seem to be looking at anything 
at all. 

Sharpies liked his face. He had never seen a face 
like it before. He would like to talk to the boy, 
but it wasn’t easy somehow. The boy was all 
wrapped round in being by himself, like a great 
big towel. Perhaps the boy would think he was 
being clever and sniffy, because they were 
dressed so different, Sidney Sharpies with a 
beautiful blue silk bow to his waterproof collar 
and a lovely shine to his boots, and the boy with 
no bow or tie at all, and big holes in his toe-caps. 

It would have been different if the boy had 
been a girl. Sidney knew how to tackle girls. 
He would have gone up to her and said “ Hello ! ” 



lO 


THE PURSUER 


and she would have had to say “ Hello ! ” 
back at him. Girls couldn’t help it. Then he would 
have said : “ Let’s go for a walk in Victoria Park 
this evening,” and she would have been there. 

But it couldn’t be like that with this chap. 
He felt a little flicker of anger shoot in his heart. 
What right had he to hold himself to himself 
like that as if he was somebody ? Who was he, 
after all ? A little slum-boy from Blenheim Road, 
with holes in his toe-caps. Probably his father 
was a dustman or a hawker or something. 

The boy still looked in front of him, still saying 
nothing, seeing nothing. Then Sidney Sharpies 
smiled at him, remembering that his father 
and mother could withstand him when he 
stamped and raged, but rarely withheld anything 
when he looked up from under his lashes and 
smiled with his green eyes. Several seconds passed 
by thus. Then at length an awareness came into 
the eyes and posture of the boy leaning against 
the wall, an awareness that he was not wholly 
alone in the world. The eyes saw the eyes that 
were smiling into them. In the heart of the boy 
leaning against the wall, a flicker of anger rose, 
too, a resentment against this intolerable in- 
vasion. What does he want, eh ? One of those 
swanks from Longton. Just because he’s got all 
swank clothes on, he thinks he’s everybody, 
does he ? Well, he isn’t, that’s all. 



THE PURSUER 


II 


The anger died down almost at once. The un- 
moving eyes, the unchanging smile, did nothing 
to keep it burning. A profound embarrassment 
took possession of Harry Wace. He blushed to his 
ears, then with all his power he took his limbs 
in charge. He shuffled away, his feet crunching 
across the gravel of the playground. He reached 
the gate that gave on the Blenheim Road 
and so turned his face down towards Bridgeways, 
and home. He was glad to come up with two 
other Blenheim Road boys of his class about 
fifty yards from the school. He felt a funny 
shiver up his arms, as if he were frightened. 
But what had he to be frightened of? Certainly 
not that fellow from Longton with the blue silk 
bow. He was bigger than him, anyway, he could 
bung his face in, if he wanted to. 

“ Hello,” said Harry Wace to the two others. 

“ Hello, Wace ! ” they replied. 

“ Hello ! ” he said again. The three walked 
on. A minute or so passed. One of the boys told 
the others he had now got two pocket-knives, 
one had a cork-screw in it, the other hadn’t. 
He was prepared to swop the one without a 
cork-screw. What had the others which might 
be set against it ? He was not interested in tram- 
tickets, but he might consider cigarette-cards . . . 
to be going on with. 

The transaction did not have time to go far. 



12 


THE PURSUER 


Suddenly the three boys heard a whoop of de- 
fiance and hatred behind them. They turned. 
Four Longton boys were coming down upon 
them, shaking their fists and hallooing, con- 
fident in their superiority of numbers. To two 
of the three Blenheim Road boys the four Long- 
ton faces were unfamiliar. To the third one only 
was familiar, the face of the boy with a blue 
silk bow, the one who had smiled at him. He 
was smiling at him now. The smile seemed to 
say : “ Hi, you, let’s have a game ! You run a 
bit, run as long as you like, then turn round 
and we’ll biff each other. It’ll be such a lark ! ” 

The boy named Wace turned from the green 
eyes. His heart was icy with fear. He lifted his 
feet and ran, as if a devil were after him. The two 
other boys, who might have stood their ground, 
turned tail, too, when they found that one of their 
number was already running. The chase was still 
on by the time the two groups had reached the 
bottom of Blenheim Road, where it debouches 
into Doomington Road. Two of the Blenheim 
Road boys turned sharp right, with three of the 
four Longton boys after them. A moment later 
they had turned on their pursuers, emboldened 
by the knowledge that they were in their own 
home lands, and the others were aliens. They 
gave a good account of themselves. 

But the boy named Wace ran and ran, with the 



THE PURSUER 


13 

boy Sharpies two or three yards behind him, 
never more, just now and again less, so that it 
seemed to Wace he felt the hot breath of the 
pursuer lick his neck like fire. He lived in Horn- 
beam Street, six or seven streets away. He would 
never be able to get there. His heart was thump- 
ing up behind his neck and choking him. 

Then he became aware that only a little 
distance away was the Post Office. He saw the 
big red pillar-box by the pavement. There were 
two lovely ladies who kept the Post Office. They 
were sisters and not married, but they had big 
soft bosoms. Whenever he went in to buy a stamp 
for his mother’s weekly letter to Australia, they 
always smiled at him kindly, because they knew 
he was shy and slow, not like other boys. They 
wore pink silk blouses and had golden hair 
piled up on top. 

There was this corner, and then the stieet- 
crossing, and then the next corner. Oh, could he 
reach as far ? Faster, faster ! The other one would 
never dare to come into the Post Office after him, 
for the Post Office belonged to the King. He was 
over the street-crossing ! He was here ! He was 
at the Post Office ! He turned on his left hand, 
and threw himself up against the three steps. His 
knee-joints would not work ; but, somehow, 
though his legs were stiff as pokers, he found 
himself on the top step. He reached to the latch 



THE PURSUER 


14 

of the door and pressed it. He heard the bell 
tinkle above the lintel. He had never heard any 
sound as glad before. He placed one foot across 
the threshold, then turned and stared back at the 
pursuer. The other stood below the steps, watch- 
ing him with amused eyes. They looked into 
each other’s eyes, as they were to do all their 
lives long, across a gulf of silence and hatred, of 
contempt and heartache, as they were to do across 
the leaves of the books they studied, the figures 
in their ledgers, the features of the women they 
wed, across distances minute and enormous, 
until even the sidereal distance of death was to 
shrink to a hand’s span in the intensity of that 
contemplation. 

Then Harry Wace lowered his eyes. He shivered 
as if a stick of ice had been laid under his shoulder- 
blades. He staggered into the shop and almost 
toppled against the counter. 

“ Why, young man, whatever is the matter 
with you ? ” asked one of the postmistresses, the 
shorter and stouter one. 

“ You poor boy, you’re shaking like a leaf,” 
said the other, who wore pince-nez, but her 
voice belied them. 

Harry tried to speak, but could not, and did 
not know what words he would have spoken. 

“ The boy’s as white as a sheet,” said the 
shorter postmistress. “ What have you been 



THE PURSUER I5 

running for? Has anybody been running after 
you ? ” 

He still said nothing. He stood against the 
counter, his mouth trembling, his eyes large with 
fear. 

“ You poor thing ! ” said the shorter post- 
mistress. “ Oh, you poor thing ! ” She lifted the 
flap between the end of the counter and the wall 
and came round to him. She put her arm round 
his shoulder and patted him. “ There now, there ! 
Was it one of the boys ? Fve a good mind to write 
and tell the headmaster ! ” 

Then suddenly Wace found himself speaking. 
“ It wasn’t anybody ! ” he cried passionately. 
“ I was just running ! ” He threw the woman’s 
arm off his shoulder. 

“ What ? ” she cried, blushing with embarrass- 
ment. Her voice was sharp. She opened her 
lips and might have said something quite harsh, 
when she heard her sister tapping with a coin on 
the counter. “ No ! ” her sister’s lips went. 
“ No ! ” “ Oh, yes, I see ! ” her own lips went. 
It was clear to them both they were on the edge 
of a mystery beyond their talents to fathom. 
They were females and spinsters. “ Very well, 
then ! ” she said aloud. She went back behind 
the counter. 

“ Can I get you anything ? ” asked the post- 
mistress with the pince-nez. 



l6 THE PURSUER 

“ A penny stamp, please,” said Wace. He felt 
too ashamed of himself to lift his eyes from the 
ground. His ears burned dull red. 

“ One penny, please 1 ” 

He felt in his pockets, from trouser to jacket, 
from jacket to trouser again. “ I — Fm sorry,” 
he mumbled. “ I forgot to bring my penny.” 

“ Perhaps,” said the shorter postmistress, 
“ you’ll bring it in later, on your way back to 
school.” 

“ Yes,” said the boy. He went to the door and 
hesitated. 

“ It looks like rain,” said the postmistress with 
the pince-nez, without lifting her head from her 
sheets of stamps. There was not a cloud in the 
sky. “ Perhaps you’d like to wait for a few 
minutes.” 

“ Yes,” said Wace again. He turned to the 
posters on the walls and studied them attentively. 
Five minutes and ten minutes passed. It was 
getting late. His mother would be wondering 
what had happened to him. 

The boy with the silk bow couldn’t be there 
any more, could he ? And what if he was ? Yes, 
what if he was ? He’d show him, A sudden wave 
of anger flooded Harry Wace. He was as good 
as that swank any day. He’d bash his face in, 
that’s what he’d do. He strode over to the door 
firmly. 



THE PURSUER 


17 

“ Good-afternoon, sonny,” said the two post- 
mistresses. But he did not hear them. He thumped 
down the three steps and looked round. The other 
boy was nowhere about. It was as if there had 
been no such boy at all. He shuffled heavily 
onward towards the small dark house in Horn- 
beam Street. 


2 

Sidney Sharpies took his cap off and hung it 
neatly on the hall-stand, in the small house in 
the bright Longton Street. 

“ I was expecting you twenty minutes ago,” 
said the boy’s mother. “ Your dinner’s cold. 
Where have you been ? ” 

“ I stayed on and had a nice long talk with the 
teacher,” Sharpies said blandly. “ He’s such a 
nice teacher.” 

“ That may be as it is,” the mother grumbled. 
“ I can’t have you late for your dinner.” 

“ No, mummy, no. But he was such a really 
awfully nice teacher.” The boy’s eyes twinkled 
with remembered pleasure. 


Bp 



CHAPTER II 


I 

For the next three months Sidney 
Sharpies made the journey from Longton to 
Blenheim Road every Friday morning for the 
woodwork lesson. The visitors came into contact 
with their hosts twice, once during the brief 
interval before the last hour of morning school, 
and later, when morning school broke up. 
Sometimes Harry Wace and Sidney Sharpies did 
not see each other, more usually they did. They 
were aware of each other though a multitude of 
screaming boys surged between them. Not a word 
passed between them. They never looked at each 
other directly. But they were as aware of each 
other as if no one but they themselves existed in 
a playground as desolate as a waste heath. 

There was a vacancy about the day, about the 
whole week, if Friday morning came and went 
and the two boys, for one reason or another, had 
failed each other. If they did not see each other 
during the first interval, they would hang about 
till morning school was over, until it was quite 
certain that the one or the other was missing that 



THE PURSUER 


19 

day. Neither made an effort to find out who the 
other was. The name of the one was never uttered 
by the lips of the other. But they listened. Each 
found out who the other was, Sidney Sharpies, 
Harry Wace. Slowly another item and another 
item added itself to their knowledge. Sidney’s 
father was an insurance agent, Harry’s father 
worked in a wire factory. Both boys ranked high 
in the respective Standards Seven of their schools. 
It was intended that both boys should go in for 
scholarships to take them to the Doomington 
Central School. The months went by. Not a word 
passed between them. 

Oh, you fool, you fool ! So the words arranged 
themselves in the thoughts of Sidney Sharpies. 
We could be such pals ! I’d fight you, Vd have to bust 
your face in, so as to stop you looking so frightened. And 
then when you weren’t frightened, we’d be such pals. 

What did you run after me for ? the words made in 
the thoughts of Harry Wace. What had I done to 
you ? I hate you ! I wish I could kill you ! Just because 
you wear clean collars and your stockings always stick up. 
And what if I do wear the same sweater so’s nobody 
should see my shirt’s torn ? I can’t help it ! I hate you I 
Oh it might have been such fun going out all along the 
river together to where the fields are and there’s blue- 
bells ! I hate the grease on your hair ! It makes me sick ! 



20 THE PURSUER 

After three months Sidney Sharpies did not 
come down any more on Friday morninjgs for 
the woodwork lesson in Blenheim Road. One 
Friday morning and another went by and still 
he did not come. 

“ What’s happened to him ? ” Harry Wace 
asked himself fiercely. “ Won’t he come any 
more ? Is he ill ? Is he dead ? ” 

A fierce temptation assailed the boy. He would 
ask what had happened to Sharpies. What was 
wrong with that ? Nothing at all. Nothing at all. 
“ What’s happened to that kid from your school — 
what’s-his-name, Sharpies ? ” 

But he did not. A. taboo, august and mysterious, 
arrested the words on his lips. He did not see 
Sidney Sharpies a third and a fourth Friday 
morning. 

“ Isn’t it grand,” Wace sang to himself, run- 
ning home from school that noontime, “ I shall 
never see him again ! He’s gone ! ” But he was 
surly over his food. He ate hardly more than a 
mouthful. “ What’s come over the lad ? ” his 
mother asked herself “ He’s not himself at all 
these days. Happen he’s met some bit of a girl. 
Ah well, come quick and go quick ! Here now, 
Harry, here ! Have this apple ! You won’t, won’t 
you ? Well, you can go and bring up a bucket of 
coal from the cellar, and quick, too ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


21 


It came at length to Wace’s ears, as casually as 
all he knew about the other boy had come, that 
Sidney Sharpies had been sent l3y his father to a 
school on the further side of Longton. It was a 
school you paid to go to. They taught French 
there, and even the early lessons in the Via 
Litina. From that school you had a real chance to 
win a scholarship to the Doomington Grammar 
School. It was pretty hopeless to think of winning 
it without French. You did not actually need the 
Latin till you got there. 

Harry Wace had a book with an embossed blue 
binding and gilt edges. It was called Illustrated 
Europe and it had been given to him as a prize 
for being best boy in Standard Five. He had also 
a snake in a bottle and a pen-knife. He sold these 
things, which were his greatest treasures, and 
bought himself Chardenal’s French Grammar with 
the proceeds. If they did not teach French at the 
Blenheim Road School, he would teach it to 
himself. They might laugh at him in Blenheim 
Road, but it was his intention to sit for a scholar- 
ship to the Doomington Grammar School, though 
it had not been done from that school before. 

Sidney Sharpies and Harry Wace sat down two 
or three rows from each other, during the scholar- 
ship examination for the Grammar School. They 



THE PURSUER 


S2 

were called up on the same day for the viva voce 
examination in the High Master’s room. 

As Sidney Sharpies came out, Harry Wace was 
waiting to go in. Sharpies’s face was radiant. He 
knew he had made a first-class impression on the 
High Master. The High Master had been friendly, 
almost jocular. He knew that no man so sensitive 
as the High Master could have permitted himself 
such amiability if he had not already decided the 
issue. The scholarship was in his pocket. 

He came out and saw Harry Wace waiting to 
go in. He saw how terrified he was, his forehead 
was quite clammy. “ Never mind, kid ! ” he 
whispered. “ It’s easy ! Good luck ! ” 

The boy from Blenheim Road turned, quite 
startled. He had been in such a state of nerves 
that he had had no eyes to see what boy it was 
who had come out of the High Master’s room. He 
could not see there was a hand stretched out to 
him. He tried to shape a word but dared not. He 
was so pierced by the kindness of the voice that 
had addressed him, he was afraid if he tried to 
speak at all he would break into tears. He turned 
away from the friendly word and the proffered 
hand. 

The High Master’s clerk came out into the 
corridor. “ Harry Wace ! ” he called out. “ Yes, 
sir ! ” whispered Harry. He disappeared. 

Black fury stormed up over the green eyes of 



THE PURSUER 2 $ 

Sidney Sharpies. The lips, which were at all 
times a little thin and hard, set malignantly. 

ril show him, he whispered, Pll show him ! The 
bloody little swine ! 


Sidney Sharpies was duly awarded the scholar- 
ship. Harry Wace was not, he had made so un- 
happy an impression on the High Master during 
his viva voce. His French, too, had been doubtful. 
The two boys did not set eyes on each other for 
several months, not, in fact, until the day the 
Michaelmas term started at the Grammar School, 
and Sharpies began his career as a Grammar 
School boy. 

Sharpies wore a brand new school cap to go to 
school with, a blue cap with green circles, crested 
by an eagle. He had a brand new leather satchel 
slung over his shoulder. But by the time the 
school-day was over, the cap looked easy and 
casual, the satchel looked battered and customary. 
He was a debonair young man. He had the knack 
of that sort of thing. Other boys after their first 
day at school are anxious to go home and tell 
their mothers what it has been like. He was not. 
He elected to dawdle about, and to walk home 
with a group of Bridgeways boys, whom he enter- 
tained mightily though he was only a new boy. 
For some reason he preferred not to take the 



24 the pursuer 

direct tram home by the upper route to Longton. 

If he had, he would not have been at the corner 
of Hornbeam Street in Bridgeways just at the 
moment that Harry Wace reached there, on his 
way home from the low elementary school in 
Blenheim Road. Harry Wace would not have 
seen him standing there, taking his ease with 
mature young men in the Third and Fourth 
Form, his cap raked jauntily over one eye. He 
would not have been able to smile with honey 
sweetness into the moody heavy-lidded eyes of 
Harry Wace ... if he had taken the direct tram to 
Longton. 

Hour beyond hour after midnight, Harry Wace 
still sat over the kitchen-table, acquiring French 
verbs and more French verbs. He ignored the 
hollow chuckling of the broken incandescent 
mantle and the shining parade of black beetles 
along the wainscotting. “ Naitre ni,” he moaned, 
“ acquSrir, acquis. 


Harry Wace was elected to a scholarship at the 
Grammar School on the results of the next 
examination. He had not gained self-confidence, 
but his book-learning was formidable for a boy of 
his age. He entered the Modern Side, for he had 
no feeling for the airs and graces of a classical 
education. Sidney Sharpies was on the Classical 



THE PURSUER 


25 

Side. The two boys had no contact at all with 
each other for a long stretch of time, excepting 
on Harry’s first day ; though you could hardly 
call a contact something so unsubstantial as a jerk 
of the head and a thrust of the thumb, 

Harry Wace was a new boy. It was a despicable 
thing to be, he knew ; he knew that the condition 
exacted odious sanctions. He moved about from 
class to class dim as a mouse, hoping he might 
avoid them in his pitiable obscurity. He had 
safely survived every interval. The day’s end came 
at length. He was on his way to the cloakroom 
in the basement when a gang whooped by him 
suddenly. His heart stopped beating. It was clear 
that they were on the look-out for some forlorn 
new boy, to submit him to the beastly initiations. 
The gang had gone by him twenty or thirty yards. 
His heart beat again. He had not been noticed. 
Then the gang turned round on its tracks. 
Another boy had come up amongst them from 
behind. Wace saw with desperate clearness the 
thrust of the boy’s thumb towards him and the 
jerk of his head. Then the boy disappeared again, 
a boy he knew well, and did not know at all. 
The gang duly frog-marched him off to the lava- 
tory, held his head in a basin till his lungs split 
for air, twisted his elbow under itself, and uttered 
the formula of mine dimittis. He was a new boy no 
longer. 



THE PURSUER 


26 

The pulses beat in Wace’s ear-drums as they 
held him under the water. He thought they 
would wrench the arm out of the socket. But he 
felt an emotion deeper and more abiding than 
pain. He did not cry out because of the ease it 
established in his heart. 

ril get my own back, some day, Mr. Sharpies. Tov^ll 
he sorry for this, I think. 


2 

There was no public rivalry between the two 
boys. They did not come into contact with each 
other either in work or play. Their names were 
never associated with each other in any context, 
excepting when they attained their respective 
Sixth Forms, and then only casually. Yet they 
maintained an unsleeping watch upon each other, 
from day to day, from term to term. Each was 
the ruthless tyrant of the other’s energies and 
existence. 

Sharpies had been considered advanced enough 
to go into the Classical Third, among boys older 
than himself. Wace was put into the Modern 
Second, for fear that competition with boys older 
than himself would fluster him. He worked so 
hard, that when the next year’s remove came 
round, he was promoted to a form on the Modern 
Side that corresponded with Sharpies’s on the 



THE PURSUER 


27 

Classical Side. In his second year he set to work 
secretly and won a middle school language prize. 
As soon as the result was announced, Sharpies got 
down to it and went one better, he won two 
prizes, for Latin prose and English verse. Wace 
was discovered by his form captain to be a useful 
cross-country runner. Sharpies blazed into promi- 
nence as a hundred yards and a two-twenty yards 
sprinter. Wace hoped his weight would qualify 
him for his form football team. His feet were just 
too clumsy. Sharpies went down to the nets a 
few Saturday mornings and they found him smart 
enough to play for his form cricket team. He 
might have played for the School First Eleven, 
excepting that his indolence got the better of him, 
and he refused to turn up to practise. 

So the implacable rivalry continued through- 
out their school-days, the barbs all the more 
deadly because no one else than themselves saw 
or heard them as they twanged through the air. 
They hated each other, with a hatred that even 
at its most inexorable involved elements that in 
another conjunction might have blossomed into 
opposite passions as fanatical. It was a hatred 
that to each had an awful sanctity. It would be a 
profanation if any other minds than theirs had 
any cognisance of it. It had its own dreadful 
honour, and exacted that no lips should for any 
reason couple their names. There was therefore 



THE PURSUER 


28 

a point up to which the persecutions of the one, 
the retaliations of the other might go, but no 
further than that. If Sharpies turned up at the 
Upper School Debating Society because he knew 
that Wace was going to support the motion, he 
might attack him with grinning ferocity, but only 
on the condition that three or four other speakers 
were attacked as ferociously, so that it might 
seem an attack on an idea rather than upon a 
particular person. There would be innuendoes 
enough to flood Wace’s heart with fury, but none 
saving those two were aware of them, and none 
but those two would savour the full significance 
of Wace’s polemic in the next issue of the school 
magazine. 

They were conscious of each other’s doings 
with a spontaneity more terrible than that of 
lovers, gifted with a faculty of building up in- 
volved and accurate conclusions from perfunctory 
indications, a faculty that belonged inherently to 
Sharpies’s make-up but in Wace operated in one 
direction only and with one objective. It was the 
operation of this faculty that gave Wace one of 
his few satisfactions. 

He withdrew into the doorway of a shuttered 
shop. It was the only shop in the small and dread- 
ful street. The other houses had wares to sell, but 
they did not expose them in shop-windows. He 
had time to wait, but he did not think he would 



THE PURSUER 


29 

have to wait long ; perhaps half an hour, at most. 
He did not need to wait more than ten minutes. 
The door opened and released upon the sordid 
air a cracked female cackle. It released Sidney 
Sharpies, too. Sharpies almost fell down the 
steps, so intense was the fury of his disgust and 
humiliation. He was sickened by a twofold failure, 
each more galling than the other. Harry Wace in 
his doorway could almost persuade himself he 
felt the heat of the shame of Sharpies’s cheeks, 
across the black cobbles. 

Sidney Sharpies strode away. A clammy sweat 
was on his forehead. He fumbled for his handker- 
chief, and as he brought it out, he brought out 
with it his prefect’s cap, which he had thrust out 
of sight the moment he had first slunk round into 
the street. The cap fell on to the pavement. He 
had been pleased about his cap. He had been 
awarded it this term and Wace had not. Wace 
might not get it for a term or two, or might miss 
it altogether. 

Harry Wace strode swiftly out of the shadow 
and across the street and retrieved the cap. He 
made an uncertain movement towards the other 
youth. Then he stopped short where he stood. 
He allowed the other to disappear, and then 
came out himself into the main road. Next day 
he sent the cap on in a small parcel from the 
Bridgeways Post Office to Sharpies’s home 



THE PURSUER 


30 

address. The parcel contained no covering word, 
of course. It needed none. 


3 

Harry Wace never achieved popularity either 
as a boy or a man. He was morbid and a little 
sullen. He was always on the defensive. He looked 
as if he were afraid of something. Now and 
again he would suddenly twist his head round, 
as if he had just heard a footstep come up behind 
him. He was acutely disappointed in his failure 
among his fellows. He tried spasmodically to 
let it be seen he would like to be liked by them, 
and to like them in return. But he was clumsy 
in his advances. It was thought he was throwing 
his weight about. 

Sidney Sharpies achieved popularity despite 
himself. He was insolent, selfish and a bit of a 
bully. But he had charm. Small boys adored him. 
He played with his popularity as one plays with a 
puppy. He made it do tricks and beg and stand 
on its head. He knew who would be glumly 
beholding the spectacle and digging his finger- 
nails into the palms of his hands, in his misery 
and frustration. 

The last Speech Day came at length for Harry 
Wace and Sidney Sharpies. They had finished 
their school careers. Both had done well in school 



THE PURSUER 


31 

prizes and scholarships this final year. The school 
was assembled in the Free Commercial Hall, 
distinguished relatives on the platform, less 
distinguished relatives in the galleries, the mul- 
titude of boys in the body of the hall below. 
School songs had been sung, the High Master 
had read his report, the Bishop who was distri- 
buting the prizes had duly announced that prizes 
weren’t everything, and as for himself he had 
always been at the bottom of the class. 

The older boys now began to present themselves 
for their prizes. One after another they enfiladed 
before the senior masters, the High Master and 
his Lordship. Each bowed stiffly or with exagger- 
ated ease, then held out one hand for his leather- 
bound prize and the other for the episcopal 
hand-shake. For each according to the esteem 
in which he was held by his fellows the cheers 
and clapping and thumping of feet arose in the 
body of the hall. When the name of Harry Wace 
was announced, and the heavy-faced pale young 
man shambled lumpily along the platform, even 
the Bishop, man of the world though he was, 
was embarrassed by the paralysis of silence that 
fell upon the hall. The desultory half dozen 
hand-claps that greeted him, or that were the 
residue of the acclamation that had greeted his 
predecessor, only emphasised the boy’s stony 
failure. Wace had not reached the steps at the 



THE PURSUER 


32 

farther end of the platform by which he was to 
descend into the body, of the hall again, when 
another name was announced and another 
young man presented himself to the verdict 
of his fellows. A roar and a crash like a breaking 
sea glorified Sidney Sharpies. He came forward 
easily, his sleek black hair shining, his thin, 
well-shaped mouth parted in a smile. 

A moment’s faintness beset the heart of the 
churchman on the platform. A quick cold gust 
of wind seemed to strike along his temples. 
“ What’s here ? ” a voice asked within him. 
“ Oh, there’s trouble here ! ” But the green eyes 
of the adored young man were upon him, the 
amiable hand stretched out towards him. The 
Bishop’s lips made the stereotyped phrase of 
congratulation, though he knew it was wholly 
inaudible in the unabated tempest. The young 
man descended the steps into the hall, the thunder 
still attending him. The young man and his 
glory went in pursuit of the young man who had 
gone before treading like a leper in his loneliness. 



CHAPTER III 


Sharples won a scholarship to Oxford, 
Wace to the Technical Institute in Doomington. 
They did not set eyes on each other for several 
years. Or only once, at most. They did not cease 
for one moment to be aware of each other. 

Their hatred was indifferent to space as the 
map measured it or time as the clock measured 
it. They did not feel nearer or further from each 
other because a hundred or two hundred miles 
separated them for months at a time. There were 
moments for Sidney Sharpies of infamous deso- 
lation when he sat alone in his armchair in his 
rooms in College, with the fire leaping in the 
hearth and the other armchair empty on the 
further side of the fire. 

“ We might have both gone up to this place,” 
mused Sharpies, “ mightn’t we ? I could have 
seen you through. You just needed someone 
to tell you the dodges. I know the dodges, all 
of them, all the time. There’s only one dodge 
I’ve never got the hang of. Oh why, why, were 
you so filthy, so stupid ? Can you imagine what 
it noight have been like, hunting for fritillaries 

O 



THE PURSUER 


34 

in the meadows or tracing the white man on the 
downs ? No, you can’t, of course you can’t, 
you sow ! ” 

And there were times when, as Harry Wace 
came walking from Longton down the Blenheim 
Road of an evening, it needed all he had of 
self-control to prevent himself from breaking 
into a sudden panic run, he had heard with 
sudden and such dreadful clearness the sound 
of feet running after him, and felt the pursuer’s 
breath hot upon his neck. 

“You can only go so far, and no further,” 
his heart cried. “ You’ve gone far enough, I 
warn you. I tell you. I’ll turn and strike ! Do 
you hear ? I’ll upset the sleek hair for you and 
twist the smile round to the other side of your 
face ! You don’t believe me ? You’re right ! 
I’m a coward ! If I only hadn’t been a coward, 
all these years . . 


They were under the same roof only once 
during their student days. A young man named 
Tom Ormerod got married about this time. 
He was a year or two older than Harry Wace 
and had been his friend at school, so far as Wace 
had had any friends. At the wedding-party there 
was a lot of champagne flowing. Wace was not 
used to champagne and took rather more than 



THE PURSUER 


35 

he could stand. He could not dance, either, 
but before long he was dancing round with the 
best of them. He was having a good time. He 
could not remember when he had had such a 
good time before. He knew exactly how clumsy 
he was, but he had completely lost all self-con- 
sciousness. He went clopping about merrily 
on his big feet. He made jokes over his partner’s 
shoulder. Everybody laughed. He knew some of 
them were laughing because he was making a 
fool of himself. He didn’t care a damn. He shouted 
“ Ho ! ” at the top of his voice, seized his partner 
by the waist, lunged off with her, and nearly 
sent two other couples headlong. 

Then Sidney Sharpies appeared on the scene. 
He had come down from Oxford only that day. 
He had learned in the train from some other 
old Doomingtonian that Tom Ormerod was 
getting married that same day. He knew that it 
was more likely than not that Harry Wace would 
be at the wedding-party, so he determined to turn 
up. 

He had not been invited, but that would be 
all right. Tom Ormerod was not the sort of fellow 
to resent an old school-mate coming along to 
drink a spot of champagne to his bride’s health 
and his own. He was quite right. Tom Ormerod 
was delighted to see him, and even postponed 
his disappearance from the party, because 



THE PURSUER 


36 

Sharpies brought so much zest into it. He told 
jokes, he flirted with all the girls, he danced 
divinely. 

Harry Wace had been telling jokes, too, and 
had been trying to dance. No one was aware 
he was even in the room any longer. He hung 
about for ten or fifteen minutes with no one, 
not even the servants, taking any notice of him. 
Their ears and eyes were elsewhere. Sidney 
Sharpies was as much of an enchantment to the 
men as to the women. Harry Wace slunk out 
of the room at length. There was murder in his 
heart. 



CHAPTER IV 


I 

The two young men did well enough in 
their respective academic careers ; after which 
Sidney Sharpies went into business with a firm 
of brokers in London and Harry Wace was put 
on the research staff of a chemical products 
firm in Doomington. Sharpies’s mother, who 
was his sole surviving relative, went to live with 
him in Highgate, where she died three or four 
years later. Wace achieved a long-standing 
ambition and managed to move his parents, 
who were old and worn-out now, to a pleasant 
little house in Withington, where there was a 
garden. The old people pottered about in it 
quite happily. They had a parlour, too. They 
loved the parlour, with its yellow plush furniture 
and green-and-gold plant-pots. They hoped 
to see their boy married before they were dead 
and done with. They made no great demands 
on him. He would be able to keep them quite 
nicely, even if he married, so long as she wasn’t 
one of these nose-in-the-air, la-di-da bodies, 
that wore low-cut evening dresses and wanted 



THE PURSUER 


38 

to be taken out weekly to dances and theatres. 
But that wasn’t the sort of woman their boy 
was likely to be taken up with, God bless him. 
He would marry some nice respectable home- 
keeping woman and they would see a grandchild 
or two, as well, please the Lord, running about the 
place, before their time was out. 

And if Harry didn’t seem a bit the marrying 
sort, well no harm done either. Mother was quite 
capable of looking after him, as she always had 
done. The old people looked forward to a serene 
old age. It was not as serene as they had hoped. 


Harry Wace was on the technical staff of the 
chemical products firm, but his superiors discov- 
ered that he possessed a business ability at least as 
valuable to them as his technical knowledge. He 
had never travelled anywhere, yet he displayed 
a notable understanding of the economic condi- 
tions and potentialities of out-of-the-way regions 
in Europe and elsewhere. They began to discuss 
with him the marketing of their processes, with 
such useful results that he was ultimately trans- 
ferred from the technical to the administrative 
department. His employers were a shrewd cos- 
mopolitan lot, Wace looked as blunt and simple 
an Englishman as any man needs to. It was a 
useful asset. 



THE PURSUER 


39 

Ultimately, they made him one of their premier 
“ contacts ” men. In the first place, he knew 
what he was talking about, from the process 
and patents angle. Then he always let a client 
get away with the comfortable feeling of having 
made the best of the deal, a feeling for which 
he paid heavily. And finally, and this was im- 
portant, seeing that a good deal of the firm’s 
trade was foreign, he had a first-rate command 
of French and German, and a fair knowledge 
of Spanish and Italian. 

He was encouraged to give to his “ contacts ” 
a social flavour, at least to his Latin “ contacts ” ; 
these, more particularly the Spaniards, were not 
convinced a deal was all it should be if the 
negotiations at some stage or another had not 
included a long discussion on art, women and 
politics over a pot of coffee, a cigar and an 
anisette. 

It was in this way that he drank quite a great 
deal of coffee and anisette, and smoked quite 
a few cigars, with Senor Juan Bienvenida of 
Barcelona, an agent of some importance in that 
city, who made a practice of an annual visit to 
Doomington. The lounge of the Winter Garden 
at the Central Hotel was no gay substitute for 
the sunny tumult of the Ramblas, but it served 
its purpose. There was music, there were women 
to look at. 



THE PURSUER 


40 

Bienvenida liked Wace. The two found they 
did good business with each other. After a week 
or so the Spaniard returned quite well-pleased 
to his native country. On the occasion of their 
third meeting things were not the same. A week 
passed by and Bienvenida still lingered in Doom- 
ington. The music and women of the Central 
Hotel did not interest him. His thoughts were 
elsewhere. Despite the coffee and cigars, the 
relations between the Spaniard and the English- 
man had been purely of a business nature. 
Now Wace was a little embarrassed to find that 
an almost pathetic friendliness was creeping into 
the Spaniard’s attitude. 

“ He’s got tied up with some woman in these 
parts,” Wace reported to his superiors. 

“ That will do nobody any harm,” was the 
comment. “ See how much of that chemical 
manure you can unload on him.” 


“ There is something I wanted to tell you,” 
said the Spaniard one day. “ That is, if I may 
talk of a personal matter.” 

“ I shall be honoured.” 

“ I shall not be staying alone in this hotel when 
I next come. That may be only a few months 
from now.” 

Wace did not quite know how to take the 



THE PURSUER 


41 

confidence. Was he expected to dig the other 
fellow in the ribs for the gay dog that he was ? 
He meant a woman, of course. But surely the 
Spaniard could hardly consider himself intimate 
enough with an English business acquaintance 
half his age to let him know he was bringing 
some picked-up woman with him ? He meant 
his wife, of course. 

“ I shall be happy to meet Senora Bienvenida,” 
he ventured, 

“ My wife is dead. I shall have my daughter 
with me,” 

“ Oh, indeed, I beg your pardon.” He won- 
dered whether he might now change the subject. 
It was not, after all, a matter of great moment 
to him, 

“ You must permit me to present you. I can 
trust you, Mr. Wace. You are not like other 
young men.” 

It was not a very fortunate remark. It was even 
an atrocious remark. Wace’s face remained 
impassive. This was, after all, what his firm was 
paying him for. 

“ I shall be busy,” said the Spaniard awk- 
wardly, “ I do not know how it will turn out.” 
(“ fVAat will turn out ? ” Wace asked himself 
impatiently.) “ Perhaps you could make time 
to see her once or twice ? ” continued the 
Spaniard. 



42 THE PURSUER 

Wace politely inclined his head. 

“ You see,” the other went on. “ She is fond of 
pictures. Her mother painted. Perhaps you might 
take her to the Art Gallery. Oh, no. That would 
be during the day. How could I ask such a 
thing ? ” 

The situation was getting quite awkward. 
“ I am fond of pictures, too,” Wace murmured. 
That did not seem to commit him too far, though 
it was not true. He was not at all sure that this 
was, in fact, what his firm was paying him for, 
that he should act as nurse-chaperon to a young 
Spanish blue-stocking while her father carried 
on some nasty little intrigue. 

“ Oh, did I say,” the Spaniard asked heavily, 
“ that my daughter speaks English ? Her mother, 
too, was English.” 

“ I’m not sure you did,” Wace said. (Her 
mother, too. Obviously, the fellow liked his 
women English.) 

“ You will not need to bite off the end of your 
tongue, talking my language,” continued Bien- 
venida, trying to strike a lighter note. “ She 
has an aunt and uncle in London, the aunt is 
her mother’s sister. But they are old people. 
It would be dull for her to stay with them all the 
time.” 

“ I am sure that Senorita Bienvenida will find 
a good deal to occupy her in Doomington,” 



THE PURSUER 


43 

said Wace a little frigidly, frigidly enough to 
make him realise he was doing rather less than 
his employers expected of him. “ Permit me ! ” 
He lifted his glass. “ Senor Bienvenida, to your 
daughter ! ” 

“ Manolita ! ” the father whispered. A mist 
came over his large brown mournful eyes. 


One morning several months later Wace was 
summoned to the office of his chief. He was 
informed that Senor Bienvenida had arrived 
and had brought his daughter with him. They 
were installed at the Central Hotel. Bienvenida 
had come a number of months earlier than his 
custom, because apparently it was his intention 
this time to combine pleasure with business. 
It had come to their ears, not from the Senor 
himself, that there was a widow of some means 
and ample charm who lived in Southport. 
They had met, it was thought, in St. Jean-de-Luz 
a couple of summers ago. Apparently he intended 
to spend at least as much time this year in South- 
port as in Doomington. The idea, probably, 
was to see how the daughter and the prospective 
wife took to each other. 

That was as it might be. At all events, it was 
thought by the directors that it would be good 
policy to give a dinner-party in honour of their 



THE PURSUER 


44 

Spanish customer and his daughter. The Span- 
iards were a formal people, and that was the sort 
of attention they appreciated. Senor Bienvenida 
had spoken appreciatively of young Wace, and 
they proposed, therefore, to ask him to come, 
too. It was just possible that the Senorita and the 
lady from Southport might not on their first 
meeting fall into each other’s arms. In that case, 
the directors would not take it amiss if Mr. Wace 
put himself out a little on the Senorita’s behalf. 
It would be kind of him, as well as, to put it 
bluntly, good business. 


A week later the evening of the dinner-party 
came round. Harry Wace could not remember 
an occasion he had looked forward to with such 
sullen displeasure. The party was held in the 
house of one of the directors, in a rich Cheshire 
suburb. The furniture was new and shiny and 
expensive. Even the flowers looked a little vulgar 
in their great new crystal vases. The crystal and 
brass of the chandelier were so massive that the 
whole contraption looked as if it might tear itself 
loose from its grapplings and come down at any 
moment. 

The girl did not look up when her father 
presented him to her. She put out a nerveless 
hand and dropped it almost immediately. 



THE PURSUER 45 

“ Oh, my God ! ” said Wace to himself. “Look 
what they’ve let me in for ! ” 

The father moved away. Wace hung about 
for a few moments, but the girl seemed to show 
no intention of lifting her eyes. She seemed as 
miserable as himself about the show. He won- 
dered whether the kinder thing was to stay 
and start some sort of a conversation or just 
make himself scarce. She seemed quite young, 
hardly more than a child, as she sat there playing 
with her fingers and her head drooped towards 
her chest. He could see the petulant thrust of 
the lower lip. 

Probably the poor creature was more embar- 
rassed than anything else. He had talked enough 
with Spaniards and Englishmen who had lived 
in Spain to know how stickily Spanish girls were 
brought up. They never moved out without a 
chaperon, perhaps even two or three. Even the 
most respectable restaurants were only respect- 
able between certain hours ; at other hours they 
were unthinkable. They never went to parties, 
even in private houses, without a long and 
anxious discussion beforehand as to whether the 
escutcheon of both host and hostess was quite 
irreproachable. 

Of course she was embarrassed. The hostess 
was quite unused to parties of this size and didn’t 
know whether she was standing on her head or 



THE PURSUER 


46 

her heels. She had done nothing at all to make the 
little foreign girl feel at home. So far from having 
a chaperon or two to look after her, she had been 
deliberately thrown at the head of a young man 
who might well be a horrid libertine. 

He stood there looking at her for some time. 
“ Could I get you something to drink, Senorita ? ” 
he brought out at length. 

She lifted her head. The eyelids were drawn 
back from her eyes. It had not occurred to him 
to ask himself what her eyes were like under those 
dropped eyelids. He had merely observed with- 
out excitement that her skin was beautiful, with 
the golden bloom of a peach. When her eyes fell 
on his, he forgot to be sorry for her because she 
was a little stranger without a chaperon. He 
forgot the doleful father clearing the decks for 
his courtship in Southport. He was aware only 
of eyes larger and more limpid than any he had 
seen before. They were not limpid. They were 
lustrous. He felt a sudden weakness at the knees. 

She disregarded his question. She attacked him 
straight away, without any skirmish. He realised 
his sympathy had been misplaced. She needed 
no phalanx of chaperons before she dared emit 
a faint word in a strange young man’s presence. 

“ You’re the young man who is to take me to 
see pictures ? ” she said. She spoke with hardly a 
trace of an accent, with no more than the muting 



THE PURSUER 


47 

of the dentals. “ I hate pictures ! ” she informed 
him, hitting the palm of her hand with her fist 
for emphasis. She looked at him with some 
savagery in her eye, as if it was he who was 
responsible for the picture idea. 

“ But so do I, so do I ! ” he hastened. His lips 
trembled in the urgency of his repudiation. Her 
mouth was a full bow. Three or four jet-black 
ringlets clustered between her ear and her cheek- 
bone. 

“ Please get me some sherry,” she commanded. 
“ If they have sweet sherry.” 

They did not have sweet sherry. It seemed to 
him a catastrophe of the gravest dimensions. “ I 
am sorry,” he stated, “ I am sorry. I — er ”... 
Then he completely forgot what he was sorry 
about. The eyes were brown, with gold flecks in 
them. Mountain pools are like that with the hot 
sun striking on their surface through close-knit 
branches. 

She was smiling now. She was a creature who 
combined a quality at once queerly childish with 
something almost comically mature. The em- 
barrassed and embarrassing Senorita, the diffi- 
dent creature who had strayed out of purdah, 
put her hand out and touched his fingers. 

“ Then make them give me orangeade,” she 
bade him. “ I often take it at home before 
dinner.” 



THE PURSUER 


48 

There was some trouble about that, but he 
got it for her. She sipped at it. Her lips were like 
a bather hovering at the water’s edge. She lifted 
her eyes towards him. He felt himself submerged 
in them, with no bottom for his stretched feet 
and the surface high above his head. 

“ England isn’t Spain ! ” she brought out 
suddenly. He said nothing. “ England isn’t 
Spain ! ” she repeated. “ Is it or isn’t it ? ” 

“ No ! I suppose not ! ” 

“ I think in England I ought to be allowed 
to choose a young man for myself, don’t 
you ? ” 

She was not being coy with him. He could 
see that. It was a proposition she put up for his 
dispassionate scrutiny. 

“ Yes,” he said. “ Of course. I think it’s a 
shame ” 

“ Excuse me ! ” she started. Her mind was off 
on another track. 

“ Yes ? ” 

“ Do you know what it’s all about ? ” 

“ As a matter of fact, I have some idea ! ” 

“ There you are ! ” she said bitterly. “ Is there 
anyone who doesn’t know ! ” 

“ I’m sorry ! ” he said. 

“ It’s not your fault ! ” she insisted. Her mind 
was moving quickly from point to point. “ She 
was so lovely ! I loved her so much ! ” 



THE PURSUER 49 

He said nothing. He knew she was speaking of 
her dead mother. 

Her mind sped on again. Her eyes hardened, 
“ I’ve met this other one. I’m not going to like 
her. I’m not ! She’s not going to like me ! ” 

He was full of distress, “ Oh, no ! ” he urged. 
“ I do hope you’re going to be happy ! ” He 
wondered if she could hear him. He could hardly 
hear himself. 

“ Do take me out ! ” she said suddenly. She 
threw herself on his mercy. “ I like you ! I’m so 
lonely here ! ” 

There was a noise in his head like an orchestra 
breaking into music. He did not know what to 
say, or if either of them could hear him, with the 
crashing of all those instruments. 

“ Dinner is served ! ” decided the butler. 


She was placed next to him. He ate hardly more 
than a few mouthfuls throughout the meal. It 
seemed to him he had never beheld any spectacle 
more enchanting than the way she handled her 
knife and fork and lifted a morsel of cutlet to her 
lips. She attended to her food with absorbed 
gravity ; and then, the instant a course was over, 
she gave him her whole mind again. 

He was in love, prostratingly in love. He had 

always thought he was one of those whom love 
Dp 



THE PURSUER 


50 

must pass by, for women either embarrassed or 
bored him. This girl made every vein in his body 
run like a spring-time stream. He seemed to 
himself a defter, a more elegant, a more masterful 
person. She listened to him attentively, opening 
her large eyes. Her nose was a little tip-tilted. He 
wanted to touch with his little finger the black 
ringlets that clustered against her ear. He wanted 
so violently to touch them that he was tongue- 
tied for ten minutes. 

“ What is the matter with you ? ” she asked. 
“ Are you cross with me now ? ” 

“ Oh, my God ! ” he said. “ I am not ! No, 
I am not ! ” 


He asked Senor Bienvenida if he might have 
the honour of entertaining his daughter one day 
next week, for an hour or two. Bienvenida’s next 
engagement in Southport was for the following 
Tuesday. It was arranged that Harry Wace 
should entertain the Senorita the following 
Tuesday. The absences in Southport became more 
prolonged. Harry Wace and Manolita Bienvenida 
saw increasingly more of each other during the 
three weeks that elapsed before she went back to 
her relatives in Kensington. He took her round 
one day to see his parents. She was enchanted by 
them and their little garden and their yellow 



THE PURSUER 


51 

plush furniture. They were a little frightened of 
her. She was a foreigner, after all, and a lady, 
rather disturbingly a lady. But they quite liked 
her. She wondered when he would kiss her first. 
But he merely sat fiddling with his fingers and 
looking up into her eyes, minute upon minute. 

“ Kiss me, you silly young man ! ” she said at 
length. There was a note of real severity in her 
voice. “ I did not know the English were so slow 
as all that.” 


He wrote to her every day when she and her 
father left at last for Spain, and she wrote to 
him almost as often. But after the second Senora 
Bienvenida was added to the household in Barce- 
lona, her letters got more and more unhappy. As 
they became unhappier, they became scarcer. 
He wrote and told her he was coming out to 
Spain to deliver her from her wretchedness. He 
received a wire to let him know she was coming 
to England. It had been arranged she was to 
stay with the Littlewoods, her mother’s relatives 
in Kensington. 

He went down to Dover to meet her, intending 
to ask her to marry him. But the Littlewoods 
were there, too, and he was unable to force the 
opportunity. Two or three weeks later he paid a 
formal visit to the house in Kensington. He was 



THE PURSUER 


52 

not an unwelcome visitor. The girl’s father had 
written to say he did not disapprove of the 
young man. Mrs. Littlewood welcomed the 
thought that Manolita might make up for her 
mother’s marrying a Spaniard by herself marry- 
ing an Englishman. 

With his knees knocking together in fright, he 
asked Manolita Bienvenida would she be his wife. 
She threw her arms about his neck. The words 
gurgled from her throat like water into a marble 
basin. 

“ You fool ! What have I come to England for ? 
Kiss me ! Oh, not like that ! Like this ! Like this ! 
Do you see now ? ” 



CHAPTER V 


1 

The old students of the Doomington 
Grammar School resident in London had an 
annual reunion dinner in a restaurant in Holborn. 
Sidney Sharpies was not a fanatical Old Dooming- 
tonian, but he turned up at these gatherings 
more often than not. He did not count on 
meeting any old friend there whom he could not 
more conveniently meet elsewhere during the 
course of the year. He turned up because it was 
a clearing-place for the year’s gossip. You learned 
what had happened to your contemporaries, 
whether they were judges by now in Borneo or 
had stayed on in Doomington. 

You learned in fact what there was to learn 
about Harry Wace. You did not need to mention 
his name. All you needed to do was to give the 
conversation a dexterous little twist. And yet . . . 
and yet . . . was it all just a little fatuous, perhaps ? 
You sometimes wondered whether Harry Wace 
was quite so preoccupied with you as you were 
with Harry Wace. Was preoccupation the wrong 
word ? Yes. It was something more and less 



THE PURSUER 


54 

than that. You could go for months on end with- 
out once thinking of his name. And then suddenly 
you found there was something with a sharp point 
sticking straight into your lungs. You were 
almost bent double with the pain of it, it was all 
you could do to straighten yourself. You knew 
what that something was. Oh, yes, you knew well 
enough. Pretty mad, wasn’t it ? 

This particular year something more substantial 
than the name of Harry Wace presented itself 
at the Old Doomingtonians’ annual dinner. It 
was, in fact, Harry Wace himself. Sidney Sharpies 
was late. Wace had apparently been there quite 
a few minutes already, to judge from the gang of 
people he had around him. There had never 
once been half such a crowd in his neighbourhood 
during all the fellow’s schooldays. They used to 
shy away from him then, as if he wasn’t quite 
clean. 

He seemed quite happy, very happy, in fact, 
thoroughly pleased with himself The devil take 
him, who in hell did he think he was, standing 
there, grinning from ear to ear ? 

Sharpies moved up to the edge of the crowd. 
He put himself in such a position that Wace 
could not fail to see him. His lips tightened 
grimly. That would be a nice eyeful for him. 

Harry Wace turned as someone addressed him. 
His eyes fell on the eyes of Sidney Sharpies. They 



THE PURSUER 


55 

hesitated there for a moment, no more than that, 
as if he did not quite remember the name of the 
fellow who stood on the edge of the crowd there. 
Then they moved on. 

It was preposterous. Surely, surely, the fellow 
had not seen him. It was impossible that he should 
have seen him ! What armour had the fellow 
found to gird on about him, that he could 
see him thus, and move his eyes indifferently 
on ? 

What ? What was this they were saying ? What ? 
Congratulations, old man ! When’s the happy 
day, old chap ? You gay old dog, you, I hear 
she’s a Senorita, eh ? Carramba ! Give my love 
to Carmen ! 

Sidney Sharpies turned away. For a moment it 
seemed to him that the lamps in the room had 
fused and all gone out. Then he realised the 
darkness was in his eyes, at the back of the pupils 
somewhere. 

It was the impertinence that most astounded 
him. How dare he ? He had not asked Sidney 
Sharpies if he could go and get himself engaged, 
had he ? How dare he do such a thing ? 

A moment later, he realised how grotesque, 
beyond the last boundary of farce, his thought 
had been. He was aware only of a profound and 
appalling loneliness. He had never known the 
sensation before in such glacial acuteness. 



THE PURSUER 


56 

Oh, no, my friend ! You think you’re going to leave 
me high and dry ? Oh, no, not so quick ! 

A foreigner, eh ! You’d need a foreigner to make you 
feel you were almost as good as a human being, wouldn't 
you ? 

A Spaniard, they said, didn’t they, a Senorita ? Ho, 
ho ! That will be very piquant. OU ! Oli ! 


2 

The Old Doomingtonians themselves arranged 
who their table-companions were to be during 
their annual dinner. Sidney Sharpies took careful 
note who the two young men were, sitting on either 
side of Harry Wace. It was not at all a difficult 
matter to arrange a little party for cards and 
coffee one night at which both of these young 
men were invited. He met only one of them 
again, as an apparently casual question elicited 
the fact that the other knew almost nothing of 
Harry Wace’s affairs. From the first he learned 
the name of the Spanish girl to whom Harry 
Wace was engaged, and of the relatives in 
Kensington with whom she was living. He found 
after a consultation of directories that Mr. 
Littlewood of such and such a street was an 
antique-dealer. He had a fair general knowledge 
of antiques and night and day for two or three 



THE PURSUER 


57 

weeks he applied himself to the study of one or 
two special subjects. It was easy enough to 
establish contact with Mr. Littlewood. He found 
the old gentleman so agreeable and full of 
knowledge that he could not forbear asking him 
to see the few things he had himself picked 
up here and there about the place. He found 
Mr. Littlewood’s company not merely so enter- 
taining but, frankly, so profitable, would not 
Mr. Littlewood lunch with him at his club ? 
Mr. Littlewood had rarely met a young man so 
talented, yet so eager to learn. Would Mr. 
Sharpies care to come in and have a spot of food 
with them one night in Kensington ? He had 
some eighteenth-century bronzes worth looking 
at. Mrs. Littlewood would be delighted to meet 
him. He had already spoken to her about him. 
They had a Spanish girl staying with them, too, 
a niece of his wife’s. A nice little thing. 


3 

When Sidney Sharpies first set eyes on Manolita 
Bienvenida, it was not triumph he was conscious 
of. Indeed the manipulation of the situation had 
not been at all so difficult as it might have been. 
He felt an insane desire to slap her face ; or, 
even more, because she looked extraordinarily 



THE PURSUER 


58 

childish, to turn her over his knees and spank 
her mercilessly. He was furious with her, and 
unspeakably jealous. Only one person in the 
world had ever resisted him. That person had 
not resisted this thick-mouthed cow-eyed young 
woman. She would see. She would not resist him. 
Oh, no, she would not resist him. 

None of these emotions showed in his smiling 
green eyes. His manners, as ever, were enchant- 
ing. He paid far more attention to Mrs. Little- 
wood than to Manolita. He was a great success. 

Excepting with Manolita. He did not stay late, 
and she hung about after he left, long after her 
usual bed-time. She seemed moody. She kept on 
thumping the cushion behind her head, then 
throwing it down, then picking it up and thump- 
ing it into position again. 

“ Whatever is the matter with you, child ? ” 
asked Mrs. Littlewood. “ Don’t fidget so. Why 
don’t you go to bed ? ” 

Manolita pouted. She said nothing for a minute 
or two. Then she spoke. 

“ Is that young man coming again ? ” she asked 
suddenly. 

“ I don’t know. Why ? ” asked Mrs. Little- 
wood. “ I suppose so.” 

“ Don’t let him come again, please don’t ! ” 
she brought out. There was a sharp note of 
pleading in her voice. 



THE PURSUER 59 

“ Whatever is the girl talking about ? ” asked 
Mrs. Littlewood. 

“ Really, my dear,” said Mr. Littlewood. 
“ What on earth do you say that for ? ” 

“ I don’t like him ! ” she said. “ I don’t like 
him ! ” 

“ Whoever heard of such a thing ! ” said Mrs. 
Littlewood. “ Such a charming young man ! 
After all, he didn’t come to stc you ! ” 

“ Of course not ! I know ! I’m sorry ! ” 

Mr. Littlewood was very ruffled. “ On my 
word, Manolita, if you’re going to dictate to us 
who’s going to come to the house and who isn’t, 
on my word . . .” he rumbled. His cheeks were 
quite flushed. 

Her eyes filled with tears. “ Forgive me, uncle, 
forgive me ! I’ve got a headache ! ” 

“ Then you’ll go to bed at once,” requested 
her aunt. “I’ll give you some aspirin to take up 
to your room.” 

“ Good night ! ” 

“ Good night ! ” 


4 

When Sidney Sharpies asked the two Little- 
woods and their niece to dinner in a pleasant 
little restaurant in Soho, Manolita would have 
liked to refuse. She did not at all know how 



THE PURSUER 


6o 

Harry would like the idea of his fiancee going out 
to dinner with a young man, even though she 
had her uncle and aunt with her. But she was so 
conscious of her bad behaviour after Sharpies’s 
first visit, she did not see how she could make 
any trouble now. Her uncle and aunt were 
obviously keen on the young man. She must do 
her best to make herself agreeable. 

Sharpies paid just a little more attention 
to her this time than before, just a little, not 
enough to alarm her, any more than she was 
already alarmed by his grace and wit. She thor- 
oughly enjoyed herself; so thoroughly, in fact, 
that she found it just a little difficult to mention 
the episode at all to her lover in her next letter. 
It was, was it not, a matter of no importance. 
She did not mention it. 


5 

Sidney Sharpies worked harder and more 
delicately to captivate Manolita Bienvenida than 
he had ever worked in his life before at anything 
at all. He could not remember he had ever em- 
barked on anything so exquisitely worth doing. 
The Littlewoods still had not the faintest idea 
that anything other than his friendship with old 
Mr. Littlewood brought him down to their house 



THE PURSUER 


6l 

in Kensington. He was, of course, charming 
with Manolita, though even yet she seemed not 
entirely to have got rid of her initial dislike of 
him. But then he was charming to everybody. 
He could not fail to be charming. 

One day he suggested to Manolita what a great 
joke it would be if he took her out to tea alone, 
without the older people being there. She 
accepted the invitation, because it was impossible 
to refuse him anything when he asked for it. 
But she was in a state of fierce resentment against 
him and herself by the time the day of their 
meeting came round. She played with the idea 
of not turning up, but finally decided she would. 
He knew perfectly well she was engaged to a 
young man in Doomington. What did he mean 
by making a secret appointment with her ? 
She determined to tell him exactly what she 
thought of him. After that, she would simply 
refuse to see him. 

But it did not turn out like that. He was so 
easy and pleasant, she did not know how to start 
at him. He took away from the meeting any sense 
that it might be mean and underhand. He 
attempted no familiarity of any sort, no acciden- 
tal grazing of knee against knee, of hand against 
hand. It was all so agreeable she did not know 
how to refuse an engagement to lunch ^with 
him. 



62 


THE PURSUER 


She did not know, either, how to mention 
these meetings to Harry. She thought it best, 
on the whole, that she should not. 

When he first made love to her, as they sat 
pressed close against each other, heart against 
heart, mouth against mouth, she could not for- 
bear from asking herself whether she had been 
expecting this from the moment she set eyes on 
him, or whether he had succeeded in betraying 
her because of the immensity of her astonish- 
ment. But the question had hardly more time 
than to formulate itself. He was more masterly 
in love than in his other accomplishments. “ Oh, 
when, when,” she whispered through her tears, 
“ when do we meet again ? ” 


6 

It was not many weeks later, and only a week 
or two before the date fixed for his wedding, 
that Harry Wace received an urgent wire from 
the Littlewoods summoning him to Kensington. 

He took the first train and presented himself. 
Mr. and Mrs. Littlewood sat alone in their 
drawing-room. 

“ What is it ? ” he asked. “ Where’s 
Manolita ? ” 

“ I don’t know how to tell you,” whispered 



THE PURSUER 63 

Mrs. Littlewood. She dabbed her eyes with her 
handkerchief. 

“ Where’s Manolita ? ” he asked again. 

“ Listen, Harry ! ” said Mr. Littlewood. He 
came over to him and laid his hand on his 
shoulder. “ We didn’t know what we’d best 
do. We could hardly bring ourselves to write 
and tell you. We thought you might want to do 
something, go after her, try and reason with 
her. So we thought it best to get you to come up 
to town.” 

“ When did she go ? Who with ? ” 

“ A young broker, by the name of Sidney 
Sharpies. He was at the same school as you. 
He was probably about the same age. Do you 
remember the name ? Poor old boy, I can’t tell 
you how sorry we are.” 

“ No, I don’t remember the name.” 

“ If there’s anything we can do at all . . . you 
see, in a way, we feel ourselves responsible. 
If we hadn’t invited him here ” 

“ Excuse me,” said Harry Wace. His face was 
quite bloodless. His eyes were dead as soot. 
He reached for his hat. His hand was quite firm. 
“ I think I’ll just go out a bit and think this 
over.” 

Mrs. Littlewood made a movement as if to 
rise from her chair. Her husband motioned 
her to remain seated. 



64 the pursuer 

I must kill him. He wants me to kill him. There is 
nothing else I can do. 


7 

Sidney Sharpies had had to work quickly. 
He had no great margin of time at his disposal 
before the date fixed for the wedding of Manolita 
and Wace. It may have been his intention to 
carry away the girl for a week in Paris, and then 
finish with her. He would have adequately 
soiled Wace’s linen for him in a week. 

But a fresh series of considerations presented 
themselves in Paris, of which the outcome was 
that he decided, after all, to marry her. She was 
a good-looking creature, better looking than 
most. It seemed in some way a pity to slough her 
like a glove after only a week’s wear. He knew 
he could not retain her much longer than that 
unless it was quite clear to her they were going 
to get married. Moreover he realised she was 
deeply attached to Wace. If she had not been, 
there would have been no joy in detaching her. 
He himself had fascinated her, he had hypnotised 
her. He did not boggle at the words. But that 
would wear off. He did not propose to expend 
the considerable and continuous energy necessary 
to maintain it at full pressure. He did not believe 



THE PURSUER 


65 

she had been in love with Wace, in the romantic 
sense of the word, as without any shadow of 
doubt Wace had been with her, (Here again, 
had there been any shadow of doubt, the triumph 
would have been less delicious.) The women of 
Manolita’s country often fell in love with their 
husbands after, rather than before their wed- 
dings. He believed Manolita’s affection for Wace 
would have mellowed into love soon enough, 
if the sun had been allowed to shine on it. It 
was wise, therefore, to prevent the wounded and 
bedraggled bird from winging its hurt way to his 
enemy’s bosom. He could imagine with what 
unctuous benevolence Wace would spread his 
forgiving wings to receive her. Oh, no. So touch- 
ing a conclusion to the affair must be avoided at 
all costs, at the cost, even, of attaching to him- 
self for life this thoroughly bed-worthy young 
woman. 

And, of course, not necessarily for life, not 
strictly. 

Then this was his final argument. It alone 
would have been effective, if the others had been 
lacking. She felt like a little bit of Wace under 
the same roof with him, behind a locked door 
with him, in the same bed with him. He smiled. 
When she opened her eyes on the pillow beside 
him, the morning after their first night together, 
she saw his green eyes smiling into her face, 

Ep 



66 


THE PURSUER 


and the thin lips parted, displaying the teeth a 
little. 

A shiver ran through her. Her shoulder was 
bare. She lifted the bedclothes up to her eyes. 
“ I feel cold, darling ! ” she said. 



CHAPTER VI 

Old Mr. and Mrs. Wage did not have so 
serene an old age as they had hoped for. They 
were not loquacious and they said as little as 
possible to their son about his wicked betrayal 
by the Spanish Jezebel. He had never been much 
of a one for demanding or accepting sympathy. 
But they could see he was taking it very badly. 
Now and again the mother would place her hand 
on the back of his head, where she knew the ache 
came when things went wrong. The father might 
ask him to go round and watch them playing 
bowls at the little park not far away ; or to take 
half a pint with him at the Golden Lion round 
the corner. The old people did no more than that. 
They were undemonstrative people. 

One night they were awakened from their 
sleep by a noise so loud and frightening it sounded 
as if the place had been broken into by a gang 
of toughs. Old Wace got up and fumbled about 
for matches. “ Don’t go, John, don’t go ! ” 
implored his wife. “ Our Harry’ll go ! It might 
be someone'who’ll damage you ! ” 



68 


THE PURSUER 


“ Our Harry won’t go ! ” said the old man. 
“ He’s not come in yet ! At least if that’s not 
him ! ” He struck a match and lighted his bedside 
candle ; then he went out of the room, his night- 
gown trailing to his feet. 

The gas had been turned on full in the down- 
stairs sitting-room. They usually left it on a 
small jet when Harry had not yet come in. 
Harry was standing near the fender, looking 
down on the wreckage of a set of pot ornaments 
that had decorated the mantelpiece. The mantel- 
piece was quite bare now. The expression on his 
face was very severe. It was as if someone else 
had swept the mantelpiece bare, and Harry Wace 
disapproved strongly of his behaviour. He stood 
quite still, without the faintest suggestion of 
unsteadiness. He was dead drunk, though a 
stranger coming in would have not been aware 
of it. His father, however, was well aware that 
his cheeks were not usually so deathly pale and 
that that dull glaze was usually absent from his 
eyes. 

“ Harry,” said the old man. “ Get to your 
bed at once ! You’re drunk ! ” 

Harry lifted his eyes towards his father, then 
turned them away indifferently. The old man 
shivered. He had never seen anyone so desolately 
drunk before. Harry then went to a drawer in 
the sideboard, and took out a chess-board and 



THE PURSUER 69 

a set of pieces. He arranged them and made a 
few opening moves, on each side of the board. 

“ Harry,” the old man said again. “ You must 
come up ! You’re drunk ! You’ll do yourself 
no good ! ” 

This time the young man did not look up. 
His mouth tightened uglily. The fingers of his 
left hand fastened round a heavy vase on the 
table, as if he would throw it if he were spoken 
to again. 

The old man shook his head. He went back 
again to his wife mournfully. 

“ He’s drunk ! ” he said. “ It’s like somebody 
else, not like himself at all. He’s playing chess 
with himself.” 

“ He’ll do himself harm, John. Couldn’t 
you get him to come up to his bed ? Shall I 
try ? ” 

“ He’s best left to himself, mother.” 

“ It’s hard, John, it’s hard, and us getting on 
so. I don’t remember him ever being the worse 
for liquor before.” 

“ It’s that whore ! Best shut your eyes and go 
to sleep, mother.” 

They heard him nearly an hour later come up 
to his room. His feet did not seem in the least 
unsteady. They were perhaps just a little more 
deliberate than usual, tread by heavy tread. 



70 


THE PURSUER 


His mother got up next morning to make his 
breakfast. The chess-board and pieces had been 
put neatly back into their drawer again. The 
fragments of the mantelpiece ornaments still 
littered the mat in front of the fender. She put 
them out of sight. 

“ Good morning, mother,” he said, as he came 
in. 

“ Good morning, Harry,” She was bending 
over the kettle by the hob. She did not turn 
round to greet him. 

He stood a few minutes without saying a word. 
Then he came a few paces forward into the 
sitting-room. 

“ Mother,” he said, “ Those ornaments are 
gone from the mantelpiece.” 

“ Yes,” she said. She still did not turn round. 

“ I must have knocked them down,” he said 
quietly. “ I’ll buy you a new set this evening when 
I come back from the office.” He said no more 
on the subject. The old people were too wretched 
to refer to it. His head ached pestilently for 
several days. 


The same sort of thing occurred several times 
during the next few months. He paid for it with 
an outrageous headache each time, but it was 



THE PURSUER 7I 

not much to pay for the purchase of so many 
hours of complete oblivion. 

His mother once tried to remonstrate with him. 
He told her he would get drunk when he chose. 
If she preferred him to go to live elsewhere, 
he would go to live elsewhere. She did not remon- 
strate again. But there was no sleep for either of 
the old people those nights till they had heard 
him go to his room and his door close behind 
him. Then, too, it was hours before they closed 
their eyes. 


And then one night he did not return at all. 
They were awake all night, shaking with fear 
lest he had done some dreadful thing in his 
drunkenness. 

He came in with a woman next morning. He 
opened the front door, but she waited for him 
to go first. He took her straight into the sitting- 
room. He had a bandage round one eye and his 
mouth was badly swollen. The woman’s face, 
too, was purple with bruises. Old Wace was out. 
He had gone to see if he could find out what had 
happened. Mrs. Wace hurried in from the 
kitchen. 

“ Harry,” she cried out. “ What’s happened 
to you ? Who’s this ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


72 

“ This is Helen. I’m going to marry her when 
I can get the papers out.” 

Her jaw dropped. She stared at him. He 
had not been so hideously drunk before. 

“ No ! It’s all right ! ” he told her. “ I know 
what I’m saying. Get me some tea, mother. 
My throat’s as dry as an oven.” 


It was not at the Golden Lion round the corner 
that Harry Wace went to get drunk. It was at 
the Three Tuns, some quarter of an hour’s 
walk away, where the nice district he lived in 
petered out into a slum. He went to get drunk, 
solidly, relentlessly drunk. He found out one 
night, or rather he deduced the morning after, 
that if he drank long enough, all his griefs and 
anger, everything that made up the desolate 
sum total of himself, seeped out through his 
pores, till nothing was left behind but a shell 
that comported itself he did not know how, under 
the direction of some total stranger. 

It was about an hour before closing-time at the 
Three Tuns one Saturday night, when some- 
thing that was going on in a corner of the bzir 
attracted his attention. He had already drunk 
a great deal, but he was still some distance away 
from the complete oblivion that came upon him 
suddenly, enveloping him like a black cloud. 



THE PURSUER 


73 

When he saw it happen, he said to himself 
it had not happened ; he was already, and sooner 
than usual, quite drunk and living in a world 
of chimera. Another pint of beer was brought 
to him. Then he saw it happen again. 

There was a woman sitting in the further corner 
of the bar, a rather frail little woman. The colours 
she wore were too gaudy for her. She had too 
much jewellery on, and all of it was cheap. 
She had big eyes and tiny fingers that scampered 
about in her lap like mice. A thick-set fellow 
sat beside her, wearing a check suit and a heavy 
gold chain across his waistcoat. His face and chin 
were beetroot-red despite two or three days’ 
growth of jet-black beard. He looked like a 
betting-tout. He was having a good time with 
three or four cronies in the same line of 
business. 

He saw the woman once again pull timidly 
at the man’s sleeve. He saw the man once again 
strike the cheek with the back of his hand. The 
blow was so vicious, her head struck sharp against 
the panelling behind her. The man laughed. 
His cronies laughed with him. 

Wace swigged off what was left of his pint 
of beer. He ordered another pint. There was no 
need to do anything, because there was nothing 
to do. There was no need to go up to the swine 
and bring his pint mug smashing on his head. 



THE PURSUER 


74 

or to plant his feet in that foul belly. The swine 
was not there. The little frightened woman was 
not there. He was drunk. 

Then the fellow turned on the woman quite 
suddenly, without any sort of provocation visible 
to the outsider. The fact of her existence became 
obnoxious to him. With both his hands he pressed 
the woman’s head back as if he wanted to crack 
the skull against the panelling. She gave out two 
or three short loud yelps. 

Harry Wace was on his feet. He rushed over 
to the man and brought the thick glass mug 
down on his head. The man’s feet slid from under 
him. A moment later the cronies were around 
him like a falling roof. There must have been 
others who had noticed the man’s brutality ; 
doubtless they had been afraid to do anything 
till a lead came from somewhere. These flung 
themselves into the mel^e. In the dust and stink 
and uproar of it all, a single image kept Wace’s 
mind tethered ; the image of the frail little 
woman, with big eyes and a weak chin, and 
fingers that scampered about in her lap like mice. 
He thrust his head through the knotted confusion. 
Where was she ? He could not see her anywhere. 
Who was this on the floor ? Was this she ? Were 
they trampling her to death under their hooves ? 

It was not she. It was a man. A woman’s hand 
had caught hold of his. She was pulling him 



THE PURSUER 


75 

away out of this. It was she. She had come up 
from the back somewhere, or had run off and 
come back. He gave to the pull of her hand 
on his. He was out in the street with her. “ Come 
quick, quick ! ” she whispered. “ This way ! 
Run ! Run ! You’re bleeding ! ” 

“ You’re not doing so well yourself ! ” he 
wanted to say, her face was so puffed and bruised. 
But he could not. He could not say anything that 
sounded in any minute degree facetious. She 
looked the most miserable and frightened of 
women. 

He went by her side, up one side street and 
down another and stopped at length outside a 
small house. They had not said one word to 
each other all this time. She kept a foot or two 
ahead of him, as if it might be thought she was 
alone, should anyone come up after them who 
would prefer her to be alone. 

She fumbled about in her bag. “ Oh, my key ! 
My key ! ” she moaned. “ Where’s my key ? ” 

“ Here, give your bag to me ! ” he muttered. 
How could such silly trembling fingers find any- 
thing they were seeking for ? “ Here it is ! I’ll 
open the door for you ! ” 

He opened the door. She slid into the dark 
lobby out of the feeble light a far lamp threw 
down the street. She stood there and did not 


move. 



THE PURSUER 


76 

“ And now I’ll be saying good night ! ” he 
said. 

He heard the short gasp of terror in her 
throat. 

“ Oh, don’t leave me ! He’ll kill me ! Oh, 
please don’t stand there ! And you’re bleeding ! 
I must see to you ! ” 

“ That’ll be all right,” he said. 

Her voice rose into a pitiful thin wail. “ Oh, 
please, please ! ” she begged. “ There’s never 
been anything like this before ! ” She reached her 
arm out across the threshold and pulled him in 
after her. Then she closed the door. 

“ Come in ! ” she whispered. “ Don’t make any 
noise ! It’s this room here on the right ! ” 

He followed her into the room. She went over 
and drew the blind. Then she lit the gas ; or 
tried to. “ Let me ! ” he said. 

“ I’ll put some hot water on your face ! ” she 
said. “ Sit down ! — I won’t be long ! ” 

The room was a bed-sitting-room. There 
was a double bed over against the door and a 
wardrobe along the wall opposite the fireplace. 
There was a gas stove in the corner near the 
window. There were also a chest of drawers, a 
battered plush armchair and a wooden chair. 
There was not much room to move in the 
place. 

She found a clean towel and a handkerchief 



THE PURSUER 


77 

and some disinfectant. As she got busy, she forgot 
her fright for the time being ; except once, when 
she heard heavy footsteps approaching from down 
the street. The scissors dropped out of her hand. 
Her mouth became a tiny black hole of terror. 
Then the footsteps passed on. She became busy 
again, and competent. She had quite deft finger- 
tips. 

“ What about you ? ” he said. 

“ I’m all right. There’s nothing I can do. I’ll 
make myself a drop of tea. Would you like some 
tea ? ” 

He grimaced. “ No thanks ! ” 

“ I’ve got a drop of whisky ! Will you have 
some ? ” 

“ I must get along now ! ” 

“ Oh, please,” she begged him. Her mouth was 
trembling again. “Just one small drop ! I can’t 
let you go like this ! ” 

“ Just a drop ! ” 

“ Here now ! You will wait till I’ve made 
myself my drop of tea, won’t you ? Here, have 
another drop ! ” 

“ All right ! I’ll wait ! ” 

He saw how she dragged out the preparations 
for the tea-making. He sat silently in his chair. 
Once he moved his glass across to her for some 
more whisky. 

The whisky was having no effect on him at all. 



THE PURSUER 


78 

He was stone sober now, as if not a drop of 
liquor had passed his lips to-night. He saw she 
had at length poured out her tea into her teacup. 
She was stirring a teaspoonful of condensed milk 
into it. She had at length drained the last drop 
of her tea. 

“ I’ve got to get along now ! ” he said sharply. 
“ Do you hear ? Have I got a hat ? ” 

She went over towards him and put her hand 
on his forehead. The touch unleashed some 
hound of fury in him. His eyes opened. They 
blazed. 

“ Don’t touch me, whore ! ” he cried." Where’s 
my hat ? ” 

She crumpled on to the floor under his feet. 
She sobbed and sobbed till it seemed her frail 
ribs would crack. He heard again the sound of 
his own words in his ears. He bent down to her. 
“ All right, girl ! ” he said. “ I’m sorry ! Have 
a drop of whisky, too, eh ? It’ll do you more 
good than that tea ! ” 

She got up obediently and helped both herself 
and him to a dose of whisky. She drained it off. 
Then she turned to him. “ You can go now ! ” 
she told him. He thought a moment or two. “ I 
think I’ll stay ! ” he said quietly. 

“ All right ! ” She turned from him. " You 
can sleep in that chair ! ” 

“ All right ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


79 

She turned the gas almost out. He moved his 
head away. She undressed ; then she got into a 
nightgown she had pulled out from under the 
pillow ; then she got into bed. “ Turn out the 
gas ! ” she said. 

He obeyed her, then he got back into the arm- 
chair and tried to sleep. He could not. He knew 
she could not sleep, too. Once there was the 
sound of approaching footsteps. He heard the held 
gasp of terror in her throat. 

He was not drunk. He had never been more 
grimly sober in his life. He was merely destroyed, 
broken up. What had made life comely was 
gone, gone. A wretched creature had come up 
out of the darkness. She lay in bed a few feet 
away from him. The breath hardly stirred in 
her, she was so afraid. He might not make life 
more comely for her, but it would be less 
perilous. 

“ Tell me,” he called out. “ Tell me ! You’re 
not married to him, are you ? ” 

She did not reply for some time. At last she 
said “ No ! ” Her voice was so low he could 
hardly hear her. 

“ I’ll marry you,” he said, “ if you want ! ” 

The silence was longer than before. Then, at 
length, “ Yes ! ” she whispered fearfully. 

“ Very well ! ” 

Some twenty minutes later, she spoke again. 



8o THE PURSUER 

“ If it’s uncomfortable in that chair, you can 
come in here ! ” 

“ All right ! ” he said. He undressed. 



CHAPTER VII 


For a long time, for many months, per- 
haps for two or three years, Sidney Sharpies did 
not remit in the presence of outsiders his gallantry 
and tenderness towards Manolita. But if circum- 
stances demanded that their exercise should be 
extended an hour or two longer than the time 
in which they were easy or pleasant to him, he 
made her pay for them after the outsiders had 
gone. He was never in the least degree brutal, or 
even rude, to her. But he treated her with a 
frigidity to which she would have found any 
brutality preferable. She seemed to become a 
complete stranger, like a bore one meets on a sea 
crossing, whom we give as wide a berth to as 
possible in the cramped quarters available. 

Now and again he would sit contemplating her 
with that queer smile on his face which was so 
much colder than mere coldness. Or was it, 
indeed, herself he was contemplating ? The doubt 
gave his smile an element of the ghoulish. Was he 
aware of her at all when he smiled thus ? Was it 
some other person than herself he contemplated 
with such icy satisfaction ? 

Fp 



82 THE PURSUER 

Had some woman somehow betrayed him and 
sought to win him back again, but it was too late 
now ? Herself, Manolita, he did not love. Oh, no. 
Whether he had ever loved her at all, he did not 
love her now. Had some other woman now come 
into his life then ? She did not see how that could 
have happened. Though he seemed to take little 
pleasure in her company, he made no excuses 
to spend his time away from her. She would be 
aware by tokens gross and subtle that he had 
fallen in love with another woman. But he had 
not. 

Why, if he loved her so little now, why had he 
once pretended he loved her so much, why ? Was 
it a game he had been playing ? And the game 
was not with her ? Her blood froze at the horror 
of the sudden appalling thought. Was it that there 
had been a woman then, not now, when he came 
down like a horse thief into a stable and carried 
her away ? The comparison with a horse thief 
struck her like a blow in the mouth. 

Perhaps not a woman. A man, perhaps. Per- 
haps the very man she had loved, who had 
loved her. 

They were of an age. They came from the same 
town, the same school. Oh, but it was impossible ! 
To ruin two lives, three lives, in order to gratify 
some private rancour — it was unthinkable. And 
if it was true, what was she, what had she always 



THE PURSUER 


83 

been — a cipher in a sum, a smudge on a piece of 
paper ! She made up her mind she must ask him, 
she must. He could do no more than strike her, 
and she knew he would not do that. 

But it was not easy to ask him. Night after 
night she tried to speak to him, night after night 
the words could not come up to her lips. Then 
one night, while they were both reading, she 
found herself speaking. 

“ Sidney,” she said. “ I want to say something 
to you. You won’t be cross with me ? ” 

“ But of course I won’t, my dear.” He put 
his book down with a smile. “ What an idea ! ” 

“ What did you marry me for, Sidney ? ” 

“ But, my dear, how can you ask ? ” He 
sounded quite hurt. “ Because I loved you, my 
dear.” 

“ Sidney ! ” 

“ Yes ? ” 

“ Harry Wace. The man I was engaged to. 
Tou know.” 

“ I don’t know.” 

“ I wanted to ask you about him.” 

“ There’s nothing I can tell you.” 

“ He was at school with you.” 

“ Yes. I think I remember. He was on the 
Modern Side, though. I was on the Classical Side.” 

“ You didn’t have anything to do with each 
other ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


84 

“ My dear girl, what are you talking about ? 
There were a thousand boys at the school. I 
don’t suppose we ever exchanged two words in 
our lives.” 

“ I see.” 

“ Well ? ” 

“ Nothing, Sidney.” 

“ You are a funny girl, aren't you ? ” He put 
his book on the chair beside him and went over 
to her and pulled the lobes of her ears. She was 
immensely relieved. He was not cross at all. 

A couple of years after their marriage, they had 
a son, whom they called Rupert. After Rupert 
was born, Sharpies began to find he was even less 
interested than before in being agreeable to his 
wife. He worked very hard in his office, but he 
was getting more indolent out of it, and he found 
that the amount of energy he used up in being 
affectionate towards the child was as much as 
he cared to dispose of. Manolita had done her 
part well enough in bringing about the little 
fellow’s existence. Well, she had a nice home and 
a couple of servants and a garden. She could 
have the local women in for tea and cards when 
she liked. He sometimes thought it might be 
helpful if she had a local man in now and again 
to entertain her, though on the whole he 
thought it was best not. After all, he never had 
any temptation to entertain himself with other 



THE PURSUER 85 

women. He understood that people called him 
a model husband. 

He did not approve of his wife spending too 
much time with his son. He did not want to 
make a milksop of the young man. It might be 
different for a girl, but a small boy should have 
as much as possible of the male society of his 
father, so long as he didn’t make a nuisance of 
himself. That was the only danger — he might 
make a nuisance of himself. 

However, he magnanimously consented to run 
the risk. He put himself out to endure quite a 
deal of the boy’s company. He even took him 
away with him for a holiday once or twice, with 
just a nurse to look after him. After all, his 
mother had him all day long to herself, while he 
was away at the office. 

He would fill his pockets with sweets and small 
toys, and have a great surprise game with him 
letting him run through his pockets. If, on the 
other hand, he ever saw the boy’s mother hand 
him a sweet, his brow would contract with fury. 
“ What sort of a digestion do you think he’ll 
have if you mollycoddle him like that ? Throw 
it away, Rupert, do you hear ? At once ! Naughty 
mamma, isn’t she, trying to give little Rupert a 
bad tummy-ache ! ” 

Sidney Sharpies set himself out, in fact, to 
enchant his son ; as he had done once before, 



86 


THE PURSUER 


with a small boy not many years older than 
Rupert, and failed ; as he had done with the 
boy’s mother, and succeeded. He succeeded 
again. The small boy idolised his father. He did 
not go off to sleep if his father did not kiss him 
good night. If he did not kiss him in the morning 
before he v/ent off to the office, it was a dark and 
empty day for him. His mother sat beside him 
and looked on and mourned. Her heart was 
heavy. 


There came at last a stage when Sidney 
Sharpies could not disguise from himself the fact 
that the small boy had, in fact, become something 
of a nuisance. Essentially, Sharpies was a person 
who liked to keep himself to himself. There had 
once been a person who might have made him 
less of a solitary, but that person had failed him. 
His wife and his small boy rather got in the way 
of his books and his collections and his music ; 
and his dog, too. He was very attached to his dog. 
He was never cruel to the boy (as he was now 
and again to the mother) for the simple reason 
that he did not relish the idea that Rupert might 
turn to his mother for comfort. If he did that, 
she might some time usurp the place in the boy’s 
affections he had won with such real hard work. 

As far as the boy was concerned, it never 



THE PURSUER 87 

occurred to him that it was not he himself who 
was at fault, if his father was a little unkind to 
him now and again. He would lie awake half 
the night wondering what he had done. If he 
could find nothing to attach the blame to, how- 
ever strenuously he sought, he would realise it 
was because he was a silly boy and had no sense. 
If he weren’t a silly boy, he would realise clearly 
what it was he had done to upset his kind lovely 
father. Next morning he would put his arms 
round his neck very timidly and whisper : 
“ Please, daddy, don’t be cross with me any 
more. I won’t do it ever again, ever.” 

Sharpies would wonder what bug was biting 
the boy. “ All right, Rupert.” The old bewitching 
smile would be in his eyes. “ Right you are, 
then. Be a good lad.” He might even remember 
to bring him back a tin of sweets that day, as he 
used to while there was still some ghost of 
competition between himself and the mother. 

But, frankly, they were both getting in his way, 
particularly the mother. He found his temper 
getting shorter and shorter with her. She was not 
improving in looks as the years went on. She was 
running to fat, as women with Spanish blood in 
their veins tend to do. When she made the 
suggestion that she should take Rupert for a few 
months with her to her father’s home on the 
Tibidabo hill above Barcelona, he was so pleased 



88 


THE PURSUER 


and relieved he almost threw his arms round her 
neck and kissed her. 

“ A jolly good idea, Manolita ! ” he cried. 
“ Go and have a nice long holiday ! ” 

The small boy did not like the idea at all. He 
cried a great deal at the thought of having to 
leave his father. He was not even appeased when 
his father generously said he might come over 
himself in a month or two. A holiday would do 
him no harm, either. When he still went on 
crying, his father seized him by the shoulders and 
just looked at him. He said not a word to him, 
but just looked at him in a funny way. The boy 
stopped crying. He shivered a little, but he 
remained dead silent. Then his father stopped 
looking at him in that funny way and smiled at 
him just ordinary. 

“ You will come soon, won’t you, daddy ? ” 
the boy asked faintly. “ Promise you will ! ” 

“ Of course, I promise ! ” said Sharpies easily. 
“ Now go along and wash your face, there’s a 
good chap ! ” 


The sojourn at old Bienvenida’s house in 
Barcelona was not a success. It was not a question 
of money, for Manolita had money of her own 
and Sharpies gave her a thoroughly reasonable 
allowance. It was not Bienvenida’s second brood 



THE PURSUER 


89 

of children, either. They were not kind to Rupert, 
but they were not unkind to him. They just 
didn’t recognise his existence, and he didn’t 
mind that. If he couldn’t be with his father, there 
wasn’t anybody else he wanted to be with. 

The trouble was the second Senora, the 
Englishwoman from Southport. She was a large 
florid woman, a good wife, a good mother, very 
pleased and relieved to find herself a mother, for 
there had been no luck with her first marriage. 
She had sense. She realised after a few days of 
not very cordial conversation with her step- 
daughter that Manolita would never go back to 
her husband, whether the child went or not. 
But the child wouldn’t go, either. Manolita would 
do everything either side of hell to prevent the 
small boy going back, too. 

That looked like a permanent addition, or two 
additions, to the house on Tibidabo. The 
Senora disliked the idea strongly. She had moved 
from the house her husband had brought her to 
because that had been the first w'ife’s house. She 
wanted no reminder of her predecessor, so she 
sold the old lot and got in a new houseful of 
furniture. Least of all did she want her pre- 
decessor’s daughter about the place, not to men- 
tion the daughter’s pasty-faced son. 

She did not make any violent effort to disguise 
these ideas from her stepdaughter. Before long, 



THE PURSUER 


90 

Manolita got into touch with a number of agents 
who knew about houses and villas in the Mediter- 
ranean resorts. She heard at last there was a 
suitable villa she might have, with servants, on 
the “ Mountain ” above Tangier. She thought 
Tangier would be suitable, for there were both 
English and Spanish residents there, and the 
climate was good. So she WTote and informed her 
husband that the visit to her father’s home had 
not been a success and she had taken a villa in 
Tangier for six months. 

He sent her a cheque in his answering letter. 
He also told her she could take on the villa for 
a further six months, if she felt like it. 



CHAPTER VIII 


I 

“Give me some tea, mother. My throat’s 
as dry as an oven ! ” Harry Wace said to his 
mother. “ I think Helen would like some, too.” 

Mrs. Wace still stood staring. She seemed in- 
capable of speech or movement. 

“ You’d best take your hat and coat off,” he 
said to the woman. The woman stood hunched 
up between the door and the arm of the sofa. 
She looked terrified, as if she thought the older 
woman would suddenly turn round and let fly 
at her. She lifted her fingers to her hat, but they 
trembled so she could hardly move the hatpins. 

“ Here, let me ! ” said Wace. He helped her 
remove her things. He was about to take them 
out into the passage to hang them up, when he 
saw his mother had not yet made a move in the 
direction of the kettle. “ Well, mother,” he said. 
“ If you won’t make me a cup of tea, Helen 
will.” 

The outrageous idea penetrated through her 
shock. “ I was just going to,” she mumbled. “ I 
was looking for that poker.” The poker was where 



THE PURSUER 


92 

it always was, sticking up through the bars of the 
fender. 

He went and hung the woman’s hat and coat 
on the hall-stand, and came in again. His mother 
was muttering to herself incoherently as she 
flattened the coal down to take the kettle. Helen 
was still standing between the door and the arm 
of the sofa. 

“ Why don’t you sit down, Helen ? ” he said. 
She sat down on the edge of the sofa, like a child 
in an institute summoned to the presence of the 
almoner. His eyes moved quickly between the 
two women. He seemed about to make some sort 
of an effort to establish some relationship between 
the two, when suddenly his forces sagged. He felt 
incapable of the slightest effort. They’d both 
have to lump it. There’d be time. “ Where’s the 
newspaper ? ” he muttered. His mother went out 
into the scullery to fill the kettle. “ There ! ” 
She indicated with her chin the top of the sewing- 
machine. She kept her eyes fixedly away from the 
wretched creature on the sofa. 

She had just poured boiling water into the tea- 
pot to heat it, when she heard the sound of the 
key turning in the front door. She put the teapot 
back on to the hob so quickly she almost broke 
it, then she ran to the door. 

“ What’s the matter, lass ? ” asked old Wace, 
trembling. “ Have you had bad news ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


93 

“ Come into the parlour,” she besought him. 
“ Don’t go in there ! ” She closed the parlour 
door behind them. 

“ Why — what ? ” the old man quivered. 

“ He’s all right ! He’s in there ! It isn’t that ! 
Just a bandage on his forehead ! ” 

“ What’s the excitement about, mother ? ” 

“ He’s got a woman in there ! He says he’s 
going to marry her ! ” 

Old Wace breathed a deep sigh of relief. “ Oh, 
is that all ? He’s drunk again, eh ? ” 

“ I don’t think he’s drunk — not now. She’s a 
loose woman, John ! ” 

“ Come on, mother, let’s go in ! ” 

They went in. “ Good morning, Harry,” said 
old Wace. “ I hear you’ve brought a visitor ! ” 
He turned round to the woman on the sofa. Her 
lips were trembling. Tears stood in her eyes. She 
fumbled in her bag and brought out a handker- 
chief and dabbed her eyes with it. 

“ Yes,” said Wace. “ This is Helen. Her other 
name’s Walker. Mother’s told you, eh ? ” 

“ Pleased to meet you,” said old Wace. “ Yes, 
Harry, your mother’s told me. A bit sudden-like, 
eh ? ” The woman on the sofa caught her breath 
in a sob. “ Don’t fret now, lass,” the old man 
requested her. “ We’ll soon put it all to rights. 
Were you making tea, mother ? I’ll be glad for 
a cup, too.” He was about to zisk what was 



THE PURSUER 


94 

wrong with Harry’s forehead, when he thought 
better of it. That was the way to handle it, tact, 
just a little tact. The boy was sober enough now, 
but clearly he had been far drunker last night 
than he had ever been before. Sometime during 
the proceedings he had promised to marry this 
poor little fly-by-night. He probably wouldn’t 
remember it, but he felt bound to stick by his 
word. It did the boy credit. 

Old Wace was very tactful. He expended pro- 
digies of tact that day, and for days after, but the 
boy’s mind was made up. He ordered the small 
room on the small landing to be got ready for her. 
She was to sleep there till they got married, which 
was as soon as possible. There was not room for 
the four of them in that small house. The old 
people were going to stay on, with a woman 
servant living in, to look after them. The young 
people were going to have a small house of their 
own. 

The mother tried to argue with him, but she 
could do nothing more than cry. The old man 
got tired of being tactful and got angry. But the 
boy did not seem to listen at all. He seemed to 
be thinking of something else all the time. One 
day his father lost his temper completely. He 
caught hold of Harry by the shoulder, shouting : 
“ Helen ? Who the devil is this Helen ? When are 
you going to send her back where she came from ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


95 

But all Harry did was to repeat the name 
stupidly : “ Helen ? Helen ? ” as if he had himself 
never heard the name before. 

The old man threatened he and his mother 
would turn their backs on him. They’d just take 
their few belongings and go. Harry took no 
notice of him. “ Go,” he said, “ if you want to ! ” 
The old man would have gone. But it meant the 
workhouse for them both. He had no right to 
condemn the old woman to the workhouse for 
the rest of her days. “ All right ! ” he said. 
“ Have it your own way ! But you’ll rue the day, 
you mark my words ! ” 


The woman named Helen kept house for Harry 
Wace efficiently. She was a good cook and liked 
crocheting centres for tables and runners for 
dressers. She rarely smiled but she did not seem 
unhappy. He got drunk now and again, but very 
rarely. On one occasion a bout very nearly lost 
him his job. He decided he would cut drink 
out altogether, excepting for an occasional night- 
cap. He kept to his resolution without difficulty. 

The house they lived in was bigger than the 
one in Withington, so the best room was called 
the drawing-room, not the parlour. There was 
a piano in the drawing-room. When she felt 
happy, it did not show in her face ; she went up 



THE PURSUER 


96 

to the piano and vamped out a tune, striking 
very hard with both hands. Her repertoire in- 
cluded “ I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,” 
“ Thora,” “ Killarney,” and several more songs 
of the same type and period. When she played a 
tune, she looked up. She liked to be praised for 
her playing. Women who spend a lot of their time 
in the saloon bars of public-houses play like that. 

Wace’s parents died a year or two after his 
marriage, within a month of each other. He took 
it badly, but he got over it in time. He was 
getting on very well indeed in his office. Outside 
his office, he had no interests excepting his small 
garden. He was as keen on his garden as she was 
on her piano, though he spent many hours at a 
stretch in his garden, while to her the piano was 
the vehicle by which she expressed for a few 
minutes at a stretch the occasions cf her greatest 
well-being. 

They had a daughter in course of time, whom 
they named Judy. It seemed that to Judy’s mother 
the child was more of a surprise than a joy. She 
could hardly credit it when she found that she 
was as good as the next woman and had managed 
to bring a baby into the world. She would look 
at the small creature minute after minute in- 
credulously, and put her back on the pillow 
again, shaking her head. The outsider might 
have thought the nurse was the child’s mother. 



THE PURSUER 


97 

for the mother seemed almost afraid to fondle her, 
as if it might be thought she was taking a liberty. 

“ Give the lass to me,” the nurse demanded, a 
large emphatic Lancashire woman. “ Anybody’d 
think you were afeared of her ! There, now, duck, 
there now ! Come to nanny ! Don’t cry now ! 
There now, there ! ” 

“ Please,” said the mother, some minutes later, 
“ can I have her now, Mrs. Lord ? ” 

“ You’d best not,” Mrs. Lord said. “ You’d 
drop her ! ” 

Mrs. Lord stayed on with the Wace family. 
She arranged to get herself kept on as house- 
keeper. 


Judy grew up without any great affection for 
her mother. There had always been moments 
when Helen had felt she had no right to be there 
at all, however well she dusted the drawing-room 
or looked after the dinner. The advent of the 
child made these moments rather more than less 
frequent. She could not prevent the idea spread- 
ing even to Judy. 

There was a sort of conspiracy between Judy 
and Mrs. Lord. They often whispered and made 
jokes together, and stopped the moment Mrs. 
Wace came into the room. Wace was not aware of 
it, or if he was, it did not interest him. Once his 
Gp 



THE PURSUER 


9 « 

wife tried to utter a protest against the way she 
was being elbowed out of her daughter’s thoughts. 
But she was too inarticulate. She did not manage 
to convey what she meant. He said : “ I don’t 
know what you are talking about, I don’t think 
you do either.” She made no effort to utter a 
protest again. 

Mrs. Lord’s respect for her employer grew in 
the proportion that her respect for his wife 
diminished. He never rebuked her, though her 
treatment of Mrs. Wace sometimes bordered on 
impertinence. He was actually not aware of it 
but she interpreted his silence as approval. He 
had a certain sort of good looks, and there was 
always a class of people who thought him really 
good-looking. Mrs. Lord pronounced him to be 
handsome as a statue. He attained heroic pro- 
portions in her eyes. She spoke of him to his 
daughter in terms of dithyramb. Judy knew that 
he was human, too, for he often bought her 
sweets and toys, being an averagely generous 
father. These favours acquired a legendary 
quality, for she now learned he stepped down out 
of the clouds to bestow them. She thought it a 
pity he had married a mother so dim and dun. 
Why had he not married a lady worthy of him, 
some radiant blue-eyed creature, piled up with 
golden hair ? Mrs. Lord was awaiting the day 
when it would be suitable to give the little girl 



THEPURSUER 99 

an idea or two on the subject, for it was one on 
which she had made herself an authority. 


It came when Judy was about six years old. 
One afternoon, an hour or so before daddy came 
back from the office, a man called. He was a man, 
not a gentleman. Judy saw him push the front 
gate open and come up the steps. He was wearing 
a check suit with a gold chain across his waist- 
coat. He had a brown bowler-hat and a red face. 
It was a big red face and he had a big neck. He 
was twisting a cigar round in the corner of his 
mouth. 

Judy was in the drawing-room, and the 
window was open. She heard him ask for Mrs. 
Wace in a loud voice. The maid, Sally, didn’t ask 
him in. She did not think he was the sort of man 
to ask in. She asked him would he please wait and 
she would see if madam was in. She then tried to 
close the door, but he put his foot in the doorway. 
He stood there with his thumbs thrust into his 
waistcoat, turning the cigar round and round in 
his mouth. 

Mrs. Lord then came to the door. 

“ What do you want ? ” she asked. 

“ I want to see Mrs. Wace.” 

“ She isn’t in,” said Mrs. Lord. 

“ Well if she isn’t. I’ll wait till she comes.” 



100 


THE PURSUER 


“ You can’t come in ! ” 

“ Oh, can’t I ! ” he sneered, 

“ Who are you ? ” she asked. 

“ Tell her it’s Charley, her cousin. She'll 
know ! ” 

Judy could see all this going on through the 
curtains of the bay window. She could then see 
a funny face come over Mrs. Lord. She almost 
smiled at the man, it was close to being a wink. 

“ Oh, if Mrs. Wacc is your cousin,” she said. 
“ of course that makes it quite different ! Will 
you come in ? Come straight this way into the 
drawing-room. I’ll call Mrs. Wace ! ” 

Judy thought she would die when Mrs. Lord 
brought the rcd-faced man into the drawing- 
room. For a moment she thought of plunging 
under the table. But she was sure the cigar would 
make her cough, and the man would drag her 
out by her legs and pull her hair fc^lier. 

“ What are you doing in here ? ” exclaimed 
Mrs. Lord severely. “ Get upstairs to your own 
room at once ! ” 

She went upstairs and did not know anything 
that happened in the drawing-room between her 
mother and the man who said he was her cousin. 
But she did not believe he was her cousin. She 
knew he was a bad man and a liar. 

Next morning her mother went out shopping. 
She did not come back at lunch-time nor at 



THE PURSUER 


lOI 


tea-time. Judy went to bed and her mother still 
had not come back. 

She did not sleep all night. She heard her father 
and Mrs. Lord talking a long time together down- 
stairs. He forgot to come in and say good night 
to her. She was too frightened to cry. Next 
morning, he went off to the office without saying 
good morning to her, either. No one remembered 
her. She came downstairs in her nightgown. 

“ Where is mammy ? ” she asked. “ Didn’t she 
come back last night ? ” 

There was an air of almost obscene triumph in 
Mrs. Lord’s face. She put her finger to her mouth. 
“ Your father said you mustn’t talk about your 
mother. I’m not to talk about her cither. She’s 
gone away into the country. I mustn’t tell you 
more than that. I don’t know anything more, 
either.” She cackled, she was so happy. 

“ But you do, you do ! ” said Judy. Her eyes 
were full of tears. “ Has she gone away with 
that man ? ” 

“ You must go upstairs at once, Judy, do you 
hear ? You’ll catch your death in those bare 
feet ! Go up at once, I say, and I’ll come and 
dress you ! ” 

“ She shouldn’t have gone with that man ! ” 
said Judy. “ He is a bad man ! ” 



102 


THE PURSUER 


Her mother stayed away in the country for 
three more years. Her father told Judy the doctors 
had made up their minds it was better for her 
health she should stay away in the country. She 
gathered he did not want to talk about her, or be 
reminded of her. The child respected his wishes. 
She did not miss her mother, either. 

But a change came over Mrs. Lord, She was 
bursting with satisfaction and inside knowledge. 
One way or another, she managed to let Judy 
share some of the inside knowledge, though she 
made it clear there was lots more, and Judy 
would share it all with her when she was older. 
She used to like Mrs. Lord quite a lot in the old 
days, before the bad man came. But she did not 
like her at all now. 

Then three years later a letter came ; or perhaps 
several letters. Judy realised quite quickly that 
it had to do with her mother, who had gone off 
into the country such a long time ago. She did not 
believe she had gone away because her health was 
bad. Mrs. Lord did not let her believe it, either. 
She had gone away with that man. She concluded 
that that man had left her now. She was sorry if 
she was going to try and come back. She had 
never been a mother like real mothers, either to 
herself or her daddy. 

For several days her daddy and Mrs. Lord 
quarrelled dreadfully. Then suddenly her father 



THE PURSUER 


103 

flared up and turned round on Mrs. Lord with a 
a face blood-red with anger. He told her she 
could go at once, then and there. She went 
upstairs and packed up her things and went. Her 
mother came back into the house two days later. 
Another woman took the place of Mrs. Lord as 
housekeeper. 

This time her mother stayed with her father 
only two years. When she went this time, Judy 
was old enough for her father to tell her some- 
thing of the truth. She was, in fact, several years 
older than her age. What he did not tell her, she 
pieced out for herself, for she was a lonely child, 
and had plenty of time to brood over it. What 
she did not understand then, she came to under- 
stand later. 

She realised that the other man was the whole 
world to her mother, food and drink, sky and 
earth, everything. He had always been the same 
though he hit her in the face and knocked her 
down and kicked her while she was on the floor. 
She had been grateful to her father, but she had 
not loved him. She had not loved the child she 
had by him. All those years her mother and her 
father had been together, she had only been 
living with a little part of herself, almost with 
nothing of herself at all. There might have been 
little more or much more. It was not possible to 
tell. But when that man came back for her there 



THE PURSUER 


104 

wasn’t anything else for her to do. She went to 
him. 

She had been with the man for two and a half 
years or more. Or rather he had been with her. 
He hit her all the time, and then he got tired of 
her again. Perhaps some other woman had struck 
his fancy. Whatever happened he left her mother 
penniless. She had been starving for several 
njonths, then she got very low in her mind and 
had written her father a letter ! She was not a 
strong person at all, excepting in her love for the 
man. 

Her father had said to himself he would not 
answer the letter. But another letter came, and 
probably she threatened she would kill herself. 
Also, she was the mother of Judy. He wrote to her 
and sent her money. At last he saw her. She 
promised on her oath she would never treat Judy 
and himself like that again. 

Once again the man came and asked her to go 
back to him and she had broken her oath and 
gone back. There was something more in her 
than it was easy to see, or that man would not call, 
her in that way. But she had gone. She had gone 
for ever, this time. She would not write, and if she 
wrote her husband would not read. But he knew 
she would not write. It was all over now. 

“ It isn’t all over now,” the girl whispered. 
She stood beside him, but she was not looking 



THE PURSUER IO5 

into his face. She was staring away over his 
shoulder, a long distance away. 

“ What do you mean, Judy ? What can we do 
more ? ” 

“ I don’t mean like that, daddy.” She still was 
not looking into his face. She was not finding it 
easy to say what she meant. “ I mean it’s not all 
over. Only in one way it is. In another way it’s 
only just beginning.” 

He took hold of her shoulders. “ You’re a funny 
girl, aren’t you ? ” he said. 

She turned her head towards him. “ It’s like 
this, daddy. It’s funny. I feel I’m to blame.” 

“ Judy, don’t talk like that ! I never heard any- 
thing so silly.” 

“ No, daddy, no. Please don’t be cross with me. 
It’s hard for me to say how I mean. I don’t mean 
she went away because I was a bad girl. I don’t 
think I was bad — anything special, like some 
girls.” 

“ I should think not, indeed.” 

“ I used to be naughty in the old days, while 
Mrs. Lord was here. But I was young, wasn’t I, 
daddy ? And I’ve not been so naughty now, have 
I ? ” 

“ No.” 

“ But I’m to blame still. How shall I say it, 
daddy ? It’s because of me she came. I had to be 
here, so she came. That’s why it didn’t matter 



I06 THE PURSUER 

if she came back or not, because I was already 
here. She was just like somebody we knew staying 
with us,” 

“ My word, Judy, what is the matter with 
you ? ” He took hold of her by the shoulders 
again and shook her, 

“ Daddy,” she said quietly, “ I had to be here 
to look after you,” 

“To look after me ? ” The lips began to relax 
into a smile, but before it was achieved, they 
began to contract again, A darkness came slowly 
up across his eyes. He said nothing for some time. 
His ears were filled with the noise of wind and 
heaving waters. Then he spoke. 

“ Yes, Judy,” he said, “ I shall need you some 
day to look after me. You will, will you, Judy ? ” 

“ You’ll see, daddy,” she said. 


2 

Two or three years after these events, Mr. 
Hannan, one of the partners in the firm where 
Wace was employed, severed his connection 
with his fellows in Doomington and bought 
a controlling partnership in a firm of outside 
brokers in London, with offices in Whipley 
Court. Mr. Hannan was aware, more than 
Wace himself, how much the success of the firm 
in Doomington had been due to Wace’s industry 



THE PURSUER 


107 

and acumen. He proposed to Wace that he should 
accompany him to London, with the prospect 
of a partnership within the course of a year or 
two. It might have been thought that his first 
reaction to the proposal would have been at 
least favourable, if not enthusiastic. But it was 
not so. 

“ I — I beg your pardon,” he stammered. 
He went quite pale. “ Did you say London ? ” 

“ Of course I did,” smiled Mr. Hannan. 
“ What did you think I said. Hong-Kong ? ” 

“ No ! ” said Wace hurriedly. “No ! ” His voice 
rose to a shout. “ I won’t go to London ! ” 

“ My dear chap,” said Mr. Hannan. “ Don’t 
bite my head off ! It’s only a business proposi- 
tion. If there’s any reason why you don’t want 
to go to London, don’t go ! Are you quite well, 
Wace ? Anyhow, take a few days to think it 
over ! ” 

Was there any reason why he shouldn’t go 
to London ? Of course there was no reason 
in the world why he shouldn’t go to London. 
Merely because Sidney Sharpies lived there, 
was that reason enough to turn down the offer 
of a lifetime ? 

He lifted his eyes to say a further word or two 
on the matter. He dropped them again. It was 
not Mr. Hannan who stood before him, smiling 
a little, winking a little, pointing with one thumb 



THE PURSUER 


io8 

over his shoulder, downwards, southwards, to- 
wards London, out of safety, into peril, into 
murder. 

“ I’m not quite well, Mr. Hannan,” he 
muttered. “ If you don’t mind, I will take a day 
or two off, to think it over. Thank you very much, 
Mr. Hannan.” 


London was a big place. You could go on for 
years and years without setting eyes on Sidney 
Sharpies. 

Yes, but sooner or later, you would see him. 
Sharpies would make sure of that. And London 
is not a big place, the city is not a big place. 
Sharpies had an office in Mincing Lane, hadn’t 
he ? One day you would be walking towards 
Mansion House Station at a rush hour, with 
hundreds upon hundreds of people pressing at 
your heels. But you would be conscious of one 
out of all these hundreds, twenty yards behind 
you, one yard behind you, his breath hot upon 
your neck. 

The fantasy recurred two or three times 
during the next day or two. It woke him up from 
sleep. His brow was wet with terror. 

“ I won’t go ! ” he cried aloud. But he knew 
quite well he would go. 

He wants me there, does he ? he mused. Well, 



THE PURSUER 


109 

he'll have me there. He's left me alone too long. He can't 
live without me. I'll turn on him one day and . . . 
and . . . 

“ Fm mad,” he said to himself quietly next 
morning. “ Am I going to remain a snotty- 
nosed elementary school kid all my life long ? 
Besides, there’s Judy to consider. She’s fourteen 
now. She’s bound to be reminded of things so 
long as we stay in Doomington. I could send her 
to a good school in London. Of course, Fll 
accept the offer. It’s a chance in a thousand.” 

He asked for Mr. Hannan a day or two later. 
“ Thank you, it’s very kind of you. I accept 
your offer. I hope you’ll find me worthy of your 
confidence.” 



CHAPTER IX 


M ANOLiTA Sharples wrotc and thanked 
her husband for suggesting that she should take 
on the lease of the house in Tangier for a second 
six months, if she liked. When she had been there 
six months, she took it for a further five years, 
with the option of indefinite renewal. It was 
possible she might see her husband again, but 
she was quite sure they would never again share 
the same establishment. She knew he wanted 
it as little as she did herself 

She saw that she could get on as satisfactorily 
in Tangier as she could anywhere in the world, 
now that her husband had had the little he 
wanted out of her, and had let her go. Excepting 
for Rupert. She hardly dared think how Rupert 
might affect things. Her house stood on a terraced 
hill, whose flowers cascaded down to yellow 
cliffs. Great urns of golden lilies stood beside 
the door. She was looked after by a Moor from 
the Riff country and his three daughters, who 
were like the golden lilies at the door. There 
were pleasant people in the houses on the sur- 
rounding hills. The English residents and the 



THE PURSUER 


III 


Spanish officials took her up kindly. There was 
always something doing in the way of bridge- 
parties in the afternoon and dinner-parties and 
dances at night. She was a fair horsewoman 
and she went out pig-sticking into the musky 
country southward where lentisk and myrtle 
were smothered at length in sand-dunes and over- 
head the pink storks went sailing, their feet 
floating out like trailers behind them. 

It all looked as if it might be fairly happy, if 
not for Rupert. The fact was the boy’s heart 
was breaking with longing for his father. He slept 
in a room that led out of hers through a curtained 
archway. Night after night, she could hear him 
sobbing to himself, when he thought his mother 
was asleep and he could let himself go in safety. 
It was hard to get him to eat anything. Even 
horses hardly brought a flicker of interest into 
his eyes. She bought him a pony, but he did no 
more than make him the confidant of his sorrows. 
The child was fading away visibly. 

Something drastic must be done about it. But 
what could be done ? She could only send him 
back to London to be with his father. But she 
was not at all sure his father would take him. 
He seemed to have tired of his son almost as 
completely as of his wife. He had raised not the 
least objection when she suggested taking him 
away ; and though there had been a clear 



112 TltSt fURSUER 

enough understanding between them that they 
were separating for ever, he had made no stipu- 
lation at all about the boy’s future. She assumed 
she could bring enough pressure to bear on him 
to get him to have the boy. She could doubtless 
send him doctor’s certificates which would make 
it quite clear that if the boy did not go back to 
him, the consequences would be dangerous. 

Oh, but was it fair, was it fair, the boy should 
go back to him ? She could imagine how suavely 
and subtly he would poison the boy’s mind 
against her. He would make her an ogress in the 
boy’s eyes. She would never see him again. 
There would be nothing at all left to her in all the 
world. 

She was convinced it would be fatal for the 
boy, as well as herself, if he went back to London. 
The game of poisoning the boy’s mind against 
her might amuse him for half a year,^or a year. 
But what then ? He would set to w ork against 
the boy himself. He would be ruthless. The boy 
was sensitive. To what dreadful lengths might 
not his father drive him ? 

Rupert must not go back. Far better that he 
should cherish this false idol in his heart, than 
break it completely by learning its true nature. 
But if he did not go back, would he outgrow his 
grief? She looked at him wretchedly. He sat 
before an untouched dish of food, his head 



THE PUie^SHSR 1 13 

sagging on his neck. He looked like an old man 
already. 

One day she had a dreadful shock. He said 
he was going down to the stable to talk to his 
pony. Two hours went by and he did not come 
back. He did not come back for lunch. She gave 
the alarm. The place was searched frantically. 
He was nowhere to be found. Notice was given 
to the police, while AH the Moor and his sons 
and all his friends beat the surrounding country- 
side. 

It was not till quite late in the evening that the 
police brought him back. He had found some- 
how that a boat was leaving for England that 
day, and had hidden himself among some 
packing-cases and lain there all day long. Then, 
in the evening, he had sidled forward to the 
companion-way and tried to walk up as in- 
conspicuously as possible into the boat. When 
he was stopped, they asked him what he wanted. 

“ I want my daddy,” he said. 

“ Where is he ? ” they asked. “ He’ll be coming 
on soon. You’d best wait for him ! ” 

“ He’s in London ! ” the child said. “ He said 
he’d come, but he hasn’t ! I want to go to him ! ” 

When he saw they would not let him go, he 
cried like a little animal in pain. He cried in the 
arms of the police all the way up the “ Moun- 
tain ” to his mother’s home. 

Hp 



THE PURSUER 


1 14 

Next day Manolita cabled her husband, and 
a week later Sharpies came. The child could 
hardly catch his breath for joy. An arrangement 
was entered into between Sharpies and his wife. 
Sharpies felt it was less of a nuisance if he came 
over to the boy than if the boy went over to him. 
He felt also that the sea-voyage and a week or 
two’s holiday in Morocco would do him no 
harm. He agreed, therefore, to come over and 
spend a week or two annually with his son. If 
she insisted on being there at the same time, well 
and good. But he would not object if she were 
not there. 

The boy went to school and learned to ride 
and to stick pig and to disport himself decently. 
But all the rest of the year was dim in his eyes, 
compared with the fierce glory of the two weeks ■ 
his father spent with him. It was rarely less than 
two weeks. He struck off day by day upon the 
calendar, and the day his father arrived, he tore 
up the calendar and threw the pieces into the 
waste-paper basket. These ten or fourteen days 
were of a nature not to be computed alongside 
of other days. Sidney Sharpies was amused and 
charmed by his son’s rapture. He found it quite 
a pleasant change to come over from Wimbledon 
to Tangier. 



CHAPTER X 


So you've come to London, have you ? mused Sidney 
Sharpies. You've come into the City, have you? 
And who, pray, said you might come to London ? 
It seems to me you're asking for it, Mr. Wace. It's 
impertinent, Mr. Wace, and well you know it. It's 
blasted impertinent ! 

He tried to work himself up into a fury, but 
found he couldn’t. He realised to his surprise 
he wasn’t angry at all. On the contrary he was 
forced to confess that the arrival of Wace in 
London filled him with an extraordinary sense 
of well-being. He felt he had company again. 

And there was a daughter, too. 


Sidney Sharpies flattered himself he was a self- 
sufficient man. And on the whole he was. He 
found time go by quite as quickly as he liked. 
He had recently moved into a new house that 
looked over the Regent’s Park Canal. The house 
had been ignored by the house-hunter, probably 
because there were warehouses on both sides 
of it. It had a small garden, and beyond the 



THE PURSUER 


ll6 

garden-railings there was quite a strip of open 
greenness before you got to the canal bank. 
It was a perfect place to take the dog out for his 
night’s run. He had fallen for a dog again. When 
the last one died, he had vowed he would never 
have another. But there was no arguing with 
Jock. Jock merely attached himself to his legs 
and did not consider the possibility of being 
divorced from them. So he broke his vow and 
took Jock on. Jock was a carroty tousle-haired 
mongrel, the only unkempt creature in Sidney 
Sharpies’s world. 

The house had been built in a good period 
and there was lots of it, but it was in a bad condi- 
tion. It took Sharpies more than a year to get 
it as he liked it, before he moved in. And it kept 
him quite busy after he had moved in. He liked 
the thought of his suavely lit smoothly panelled 
house flanked by its uncouth warehouses. He had 
the house to look after, and Jock. He sometimes 
went to concerts when Jock inferred he might. 
He was a ballet enthusiast and went to the ballet 
without consulting Jock. He was a member of 
several clubs and collected Victorian glass and 
mezzotints. There was quite enough in his life 
to keep him busy and amused. 

He had had a housekeeper for several years. 
She was getting on now. He was used to her 
and kept her on. There was also a maid living 



THE PURSUER 


II7 

in. He did not like to feel there were too many 
people cluttering up the place, so that the other 
servants slept out, the chauffeur and the gardener 
and the woman who helped in the kitchen. The 
name of the housekeeper was Mrs. Carvill, the 
maid was Jean. 

He had an office in Mincing Lane. He had 
recently entered the rubber market, and was 
doing very well. It was thought he was doing very 
well with his life altogether. Both his single and 
his married friends envied him. He seemed to 
them to have made the best of both worlds. 

But there were moments when he was doing less 
well than they knew. These moments caught hold 
of him sometimes even in his office, or among his 
friends. But nothing happened to his face. He 
went on talking or smiling. They happened more 
frequently when he was alone in his house by the 
Canal. Then he could not bear the faces of the 
two women in the house. The dog seemed a mis- 
begotten hairy brute. The creature slunk away 
on his belly, realising that the desolation and the 
mystery had come. 

He was lonely. Loneliness was like a growth 
inside him, clawing at his vitals. It was not for 
his wife nor his son he was lonely at these times. 
It was another than they. 

The housekeeper had a large attic at the top of 
the house. The maid had a smaller one beside it. 



THE PURSUER 


ll8 

One night Mrs. Carvill was awakened by Jean 
tugging fiercely at her shoulder. 

“ Get up, get up, Mrs. Carvill ! ” the girl 
implored. 

“ What is it ? What’s the matter with you ? ” 
the other asked sleepily. 

“ Can’t you hear ? Oh can’t you hear, Mrs. 
Carvill ? ” 

“ No I can’t ! ” 

“ Hush — listen now ! There it goes again ! ” 

“ Why, yes, I think I can ! It’s Jock, isn’t it ? 
He’s been locked out ! ” 

“ No, Mrs. Carvill, look ! Shall I switch the 
light on ? Here’s Jock beside your bed ! ” 

The animal was stretched out close to the foot 
of the bed, his head between his paws. He was 
trembling as if he had just come out of ice-cold 
water. 

“ What’s he doing there ? Why isn’t he on the 
mat outside his master’s room ? ” 

“ I don’t know ! Listen ! ” 

“ It’s Mr. Sharpies ! ” 

“ Yes ! ” 

“You fool ! He’s ill ! He’s got toothache ! 
Why didn’t you tell me sooner ! ” She thrust her 
feet into slippers and put a dressing-gown round 
her. Then she went downstairs. 

“ Mr. Sharpies ! ” she called out. There was 
no reply. “ Mr. Sharpies ! ” she called again. 



THE PURSUER 


“9 

“ Can I do anything for you ? ” Complete 
silence. “ Are you all right, Mr. Sharpies ? ” 
The door opened on her suddenly. Her em- 
ployer stood in the doorway fully dressed. His 
face was twisted with fury. The green eyes glared 
like an animal’s. 

“ Go away, you blasted idiot ! Go away ! ” he 
shouted at her. “ Don’t come unless you’re asked 
for ! ” He shut the door in her face. 


At last the idea came to Sidney Sharpies that 
he would send Harry Wace a letter. This was 
about two years after Wace had come up to 
London. He knew that he would carry out the 
idea though he argued against himself for many 
months. 

He’ll snub you. And what if he will ? It can’t be 
worse than this. Oh can’t it ! Just you wait ! After all, 
he must be as sick of it as me. We’re both getting on 
now. We’re nearer forty than thirty. You’ve done him 
harm, he’s done you none. What ? He’s done me no 
harm? What the hell are you talking about? Done me 
no harm ? I know you’re mad, but I never thought you 
were a fool. 

Then the argument took another turn. 

It’ll be dangerous. Let sleeping dogs lie. It’ll be the 
element that will send the whole mixture sky-high. 

Frightened, are you ? Ho, so you’ re frightened ! I had 



120 


THE PURSUER 


my doubts before, but that's done them in. Pd like to see 
him touch me with his little finger. He daren't. If he 
only would! That's what's been wrong all the time, 
all the time, from the very beginning, all the time. 

Don't you see? I'd like him to. I want him to. Let 
him turn round and break me into pieces. 

But this time he won't. I think he won't. Perhaps he'll 
write back and say : I think you' re quite right, Sharpies^ 
It's gone on long enough. 

So the endless argument turned and turned and 
turned in his brain like a mouse in a cage. 


He wrote Wace the following letter. It was 
dated April the twenty-ninth of that year. 

Dear Wage, 

I’ve been meaning to write to you for some 
time, ever since I learned you came to London. 
I want to say I’m sorry. Would you like to have 
a meal with me som.e time, or just a drink, if 
you would prefer it ? I would like it a great 
deal. 

Yours sincerely, 

Sidney Sharples. 


He dropped the letter into the pillar-box and 
instantly wished it back into his hands again, so 
that he could put a match to it and burn it. But 



THE PURSUER I2I 

at night he was happy. He smiled up into the 
ceiling. Jock was promoted from the rug outside 
the door to the rug beside his bed. He stretched 
his hand out and down towards the dog’s coarse 
pelt and stroked it affectionately. The reply could 
hardly come by to-morrow night’s post. It would 
probably come the morning after. 

It did not come the morning after. The days 
passed and the reply did not come. He threw 
himself upon his letters at every post with burning 
cheeks. The reply did not come. 

The months passed by and he did not hear. 
He could not believe the fellow could or dared 
humiliate him so. It was unthinkable. The letter 
had not reached him ; or it had been answered 
and he had not received the reply. 

A whole year passed by thus. He wrote another 
letter dated April the twenty-ninth, like its 
predecessor. 

Dear Wage, 

I wrote you a letter a year ago, on the same 
day of this month. I would be grateful to you if 
you would let me know whether you received it. 

Yours sincerely, 

Sidney Sharples. 


A reply came by the evening post of the same 
day. 



122 


THE PURSUER 


Dear Sir, 

I received your letter of a year ago date. I 
destroyed it as I have destroyed your communi- 
cation received to-day. 

Yours faithfully, 

H. Wage. 

Sidney Sharpies lifted the letter at its extreme 
corner between finger and thumb and went over 
to the fire with it. He dropped it among the coals 
and pushed it as deep into the heart of the fire as 
the tip of the poker could thrust it. 

He rang the bell and Mrs. Carvill came in. 

“ Take that food away,” he said. “ I won’t 
eat anything.” 

She saw his face was as pale as ash, but she 
knew better than to ask him what ailed him. 
“ Yes, sir,” she said, and got busy. 

He went out and walked about the streets for 
some time and then came in and went straight to 
bed. He twisted the sheet into a gag and thrust 
it into his mouth to prevent himself screaming. 

He paid a lot of attention to his toilet next 
morning. He went to the office looking very 
spruce. 



CHAPTER XI 


I 

Harry Wage came up to London towards 
the latter end of nineteen-twenty. He took a 
house in Baron’s Court, and travelled home 
every evening between five-thirty and six from 
the Underground Station at Mansion House. 
There is always a great crowd at that hour, 
thrusting its way towards the station along the 
converging streets. 

Quite a long time passed before Wace recalled 
a fantasy that had almost prevented him from 
accepting his job in London, the fantasy he had 
had of a man coming up after him in the crowd, 
now twenty yards behind him, now a yard 
behind him, now less than a yard, his breath 
hot upon his neck. The man was the man he 
hated more than he had ever loved anything in 
the world. 

Wace had a lot to think of during those first 
months — he had to dig himself into his job and 
make his home fairly comfortable ; there was his 
daughter, too, and her schooling. He had quite 
a lot on his mind. Then, one evening, without 



THE PURSUER 


124 

any sort of warning, he felt the hot breath on 
his neck. He turned round, though it was not 
easy in that crowd, and scanned the faces 
coming up behind him. None of them was in 
the least familiar. He looked round again next 
day, and again none of the faces was familiar. 
He remembered to look round half a dozen 
times during the next few weeks, and once or 
twice he thought he saw the face that was so 
hateful to him. Almost at once he realised it 
was not. At length he decided he would not 
look round again. The habit was becoming an 
irritation to him. 

Besides, he knew the fellow lived in Regent’s 
Park. If he went home by Underground, he 
went by another station. Possibly he left his 
office in a car. 

At the end of April nineteen twenty-two a 
letter came to him from Sidney Sharpies. 
He ignored it. Another came at the end of 
April the following year. He was furious, 
and he was frightened. The fellow was after 
him again. What game was he up to ? Could 
he possibly believe he would be such an 
imbecile as to swallow the bait ? He would 
see. 

He replied to the second letter, a short sharp 
note. He felt relieved. He did not try to convince 
himself that this was the end of everything, 



THE PURSUER 


125 

though many months passed after this inter- 
change of notes and still nothing happened. 
But it cleared the air. He felt freer than he had 
felt till now in London. He devoted himself with 
more keenness to the business than he had 
shown till now. He was making a success of 
himself. Judy was a big girl now, in her last 
year at school. She would be leaving soon. 
She seemed happy enough, even though she was 
a lonely girl, who did not make friends easily. 
They went about to theatres and cinemas to- 
gether. 

When something happened at last, it was so 
little it was hardly more than nothing. It was 
with no thought of Sidney Sharpies at all that 
Harry Wace turned his head one evening as he 
was making his way towards the Mansion House 
Underground Station. He thought he heard 
someone call his name, so he turned his head. 
Quite casually his eyes lit on Sharpies. Sharpies 
was not even looking at him. It could not be 
he that had called him, because he was too far 
away to have reached him in so low a voice. 
Besides, what reason had Sharpies to speak to 
him at all ? 

He peered among the faces nearer to him, 
and saw none that was familiar. A little strange, 
he thought ; and, after all, not so strange. 
Probably it was some name similar to his that 



THE PURSUER 


126 

had been called. Or it had been some other 
Wace, perhaps. 

And was that really Sidney Sharpies, after 
all ? How long ago was it since he had last set 
eyes on Sharpies ? What ? It was twenty years 
ago, wasn’t it ? Twenty years ago ! Then perhaps 
that fellow wasn’t Sidney Sharpies ? Oh, yes it 
was. He knew his face as well as if he had seen 
it every day during all those twenty years. 
In a sense, of course, he had. 

Well then. It had happened now. He had 
seen Sidney Sharpies again. The crowd moved 
on, and he moved with it. He was through the 
turnstile now. He was descending the steps now 
towards the westbound platform. 

Don’t look round. That’s what he wants you to do. 
Exactly that. Don’t look round. 

“ What an idiot I am ! ” he said to himself 
angrily. “ What the hell shouldn’t I look round 
for ? ” 

He looked round. He could not see Sidney 
Sharpies now. The staircase was jammed with 
people. He was on the platform. It was possible 
to move a little more easily. 

Sidney Sharpies was on another platform, 
probably. Or he hadn’t been there at all. Oh 
yes, he had. That had quite definitely been 
Sidney Sharpies. Was he somewhere behind 
that clot of people near the bookstall ? And 



THE PURSUER 


127 

what if he was ? Why on earth shouldn’t the 
fellow take a westbound train from Mansion 
House Station if he felt like it ? 

A train came in. It was not Wace’s train ; 
it passed his station. A carriage door was open 
a foot or two from his elbow. As the train moved 
off, he made a sudden wild dash for the compart- 
ment, and got inside hardly a second before the 
guard banged the door to. 

2 

The same thing happened several times during 
the next month or two. Wace was aware that 
Sharpies lived in Regent’s Park. Now Mansion 
House was not the most convenient station for 
Regent’s Park. Then Sharpies made some other 
journey between five- thirty and six every now 
and again. Why shouldn’t he ? There was no 
reason in the world why he should not. Once 
or twice they were quite close up against each 
other, but no sign of recognition passed between 
them. Was there perhaps the faint shadow of a 
smile on Sharpies’s face ? It was an illusion. 
Wace decided he was incapable of seeing his 
face without imagining the shadow of a smile 
on it. 

It was upsetting, of course. Wace could not 
disguise from himself that these encounters — 



THE PURSUER 


128 

but you could not call them encounters — put 
him out for a day or two on end. He became 
surly. He did not have a pleasant word even 
for Judy. She kept out of his way. 

And then Sharpies turned up at Boulter’s 
Chop-House in Dacey Court. When Wace was 
not having a business-lunch, he always lunched 
at Boulter’s. It was a quiet old-fashioned place, 
though it was in the very heart of the city. 
They did a good steak there and had a good 
pint of beer on draught. He found Boulter’s 
very restful after the insistent jabber of the 
telephones all morning. 

Sidney Sharpies turned up quite casually at 
Boulter’s, one lunch-time, just a few minutes 
after Wace had arrived. He turned up just as 
casually as he made the Underground journey 
from Mansion House now and again. The place 
was divided into cubicles. He gave the waiter 
his hat and coat, looked about indifferently 
and placed himself in the cubicle facing the 
one where Wace was already sitting, where, in 
fact, he sat every time he lunched at Boulter’s. 
It was a coincidence, Wace supposed. He did 
badly with his lunch that day. 

It might have been only a coincidence, but 
Wace asked to have his cubicle changed next 
day. In a corner of the Chop-House there 
were four cubicles which just faced a wooden 



THE PURSUER 129 

partition. He asked to be given one of 
these. 

It was a pity, in a way. The new waiter was 
less intelligent than the old one. And Sidney 
Sharpies did not lunch at Boulter’s again. Not 
for six weeks. When he came again, he occupied 
the next cubicle to Wace’s. Somehow it was 
more formidable to have the enemy invisible, 
to know that rather less than half an inch of 
wood separated you from him. For of course 
it was quite clear now it was no coincidence 
he had come to lunch at Boulter’s. Quite 
clear. 

When Sharpies came a third time, about ten 
days later, and lunched at Boulter’s, rather 
less than a foot or so away from him, Wace 
realised that that was the last time he himself 
would lunch there. It was infuriating. He had 
liked Boulter’s. It had been restful. The food 
agreed with him. 


3 

What could you do about it ? What in the 
world was there you could do ? What was there 
to prevent a man taking any journey by Under- 
ground he wished to take, or having his lunch 
where he chose to have it ? It was different 
when he wrote you a letter, or two letters, to be 
Ip 



THE PURSUER 


130 

exact. It was gratifying to ignore the first. It was 
gratifying, in a different way, to reply to the 
second. 

But what could you do to a man weaving so 
gossamer a web about you, that you didn’t even 
need to breathe in order to break it, for the web 
wasn’t woven at all ? 

Next time you saw him could you go up and 
smack his face or hit him with your walking- 
stick ? It would be grotesque and humiliating. 
Sharpies would enjoy that infinitely. 

Besides, not only was Sharpies doing nothing 
at all, but you didn’t know him and he didn’t 
know you. That was what was so wrong and so 
shocking about the two letters he wrote to you 
and the one he forced out of you in return. It 
was breaking the supreme rule of their ghostly 
and inexorable game. 

What could you do then ? Kill him ? It seemed 
about the only thing to do. 

4 

The impalpable persecution continued. It was 
almost more odious than the previous persecu- 
tions that had culminated in some tangible 
wickedness. Sidney Sharpies thrived on it. He 
was beginning to look fat and prosperous. The 
hair was going in the middle of his scalp. His 



THE PURSUER 


waistcoat began to bulge a little. He looked like 
a well-groomed bachelor, on good terms with the 
world and himself. 

Harry Wace lost weight. His clothes began to 
hang loosely on his bones. He looked like a man 
who was going to the bad with drink. He did 
not, as a matter of fact, drink at all, or anything 
more than his usual night-cap. A violent tempta- 
tion assailed him more than once to drink him- 
self into oblivion, as he had done in an earlier 
phase of his career, when he wanted to forget 
a woman who had been stolen from him, and 
a man who had stolen her. 

But it would be odious to let that same man 
score another and so gross a triumph. He remem- 
bered with dismay the headaches that always 
followed these drinking-bouts. His head ached 
badly enough already. There was Judy to think 
of, too. She was not having too gay a time, as it 
was. He could not go into a train without get- 
ting restive. Every time the train stopped and 
fresh passengers got in, his hands trembled so 
that his newspaper almost fell out of his hands. 
He would be looking up every minute or two 
to make sure the pursuer had not come in after 
him. 

He had once been a keen cinema-goer, but he 
never went to the cinema now, not since a certain 
evening in the New Gallery. He had been 



THE PURSUER 


132 

absorbed in a film that night, with Judy sitting 
beside him, not quite so interested. She was wait- 
ing for the shorter film, which was to follow. He 
had been so absorbed he had not noticed that 
somebody had moved along a vacant row to the 
seat on the other side of him. When the lights 
went up, he became aware that Sidney Sharpies 
was sitting on his left hand. He made a violent 
effort to master his horror, but it was too much 
for him. He rose. “Judy,” he said to her harshly. 
“ Are you coming ? ” 

“ But daddy,” she complained, “ it’s the short 
film I’ve come to see. Are you all right ? ” 

“ I’ve never seen such nonsense,” he declared, 
with a fierce attempt to seem at ease. “ You stay 
if you like ! ” And even as he spoke, his mind 
filled with a picture of the whole cinema emptied, 
only those two sitting a foot away from each 
other. He saw the other sidle into the seat he had 
vacated. He saw his fingers writhe like snakes on 
to the thigh of the girl beside him, 

“ Come at once, do you hear ? ” he shouted. 
She rose. She looked very miserable. 

“ I’m sorry, Judy dear,” he said. The sweat 
was pouring from his forehead. “ I’m sorry I 
made you miss it, but ... I felt rather faint,” he 
explained lamely. 



THE PURSUER 


133 


5 

As time went on, there were more palpable 
injuries. There were obstructions in business due 
to some influence to which no name or shape 
could be attached. Then, after he had put up for 
a business men’s club on the persuasion of two 
or three of his friends, he found himself black- 
balled. He attempted to buy a house once. He 
found himself forestalled and outbid. There was 
one injury that cost him a good deal of his fortune. 

That happened in the spring of nineteen 
twenty-eight. He was a rich man at that time. 
His position in business was at its zenith. His 
Doomington partner, Hannan, had retired some 
two years earlier and Wace had taken over from him 
the controlling interest in the firm. It was a boom 
time and Wace came in on it with a very useful 
combination of flair and north-country caution. 

A swindler, Brakeley by name, was the one 
who actually brought him down. He disappeared 
with considerable gains, when the transaction 
was over. Rut the secret motor of the swindle was 
Sidney Sharpies, who made not a penny out of 
it. The part he had played was in no legal sense 
criminal, but it was a pretty enough move in 
a private game he had been playing for a good 
many years. 



THE PURSUER 


134 

This was how it had worked. Sidney Sharpies 
was in Mincing Lane. He had been approached 
by this Brakeley, who stated he had a friend in 
the Dutch Government. There was no doubt at 
all that the friend existed. Brakeley confided after 
due guarantees that the Dutch Government were 
coming in at last on the restriction scheme. The 
price of rubber would soar sky-high within a 
couple of months. He proposed a deal in rubber 
futures which would make enormous fortunes 
for both of them. 

It happened, however, that Sharpies was a 
good deal better informed than even the rest of 
Mincing Lane. He, too, had friends both in 
Amsterdam and Malaya, whose information led 
him to somewhat different conclusions. He gave 
no inkling to Brakeley that he had seen through 
his scheme. He regretted that his firm had too 
many commitments on hand and suggested the 
names of two or three firms that had been doing 
big business lately along those lines. They were 
outside brokers, too ; they were likelier to have 
funds available on this scale. He suggested casu- 
ally that Wace’s firm seemed as likely as any, 
they had been doing particularly well lately. He 
further implied that it would be useful to keep 
the name of his own firm out of it, for it would 
inspii e more confidence if it were imagined that 
the offer had been made nowhere else. 



THE PURSUER 


135 

The offer was duly made to Wace and duly 
accepted. Had it been made a month or two 
earlier or later it would have been turned down. 
Wace had been uniformly successful in a series of 
ventures each just a little more speculative than 
the last. Had another month or two gone by, 
some minor failure, in the natural chances of 
business, would have brought home to him his 
fallibility. At any other moment than this 
Sharpies would not have diverted the specula- 
tion in his direction. Brakeley had, of course, a 
good handful of forward contracts, which he 
generously unloaded on Wace at a more than 
optimistic figure. The degree of this optimism 
became clear as soon as “ restriction ” once again 
became a dream. Brakeley disappeared from 
market circles. Wace was left for several months 
to come paying sixpence for every threepence he 
received. The sixpences were numerous. 


It was not because he pieced together, with an 
intuition equal to his enemy’s, the part he had 
played in this affair, that Harry Wace deter- 
mined to murder Sidney Sharpies. None of these 
injuries precipitated the intention or the execu- 
tion. He was aware that the murder to which he 
was dedicated pursued and would culminate a 
curve which had been decreed many years ago. 



THE PURSUER 


136 

It was to murder Sidney Sharpies he had come 
to London. It was Sidney Sharpies himself who 
had summoned him to London. 

He lay tossing in his bed night after night. The 
sweat of anguish was clammy on his forehead. 
A moan like a dying child’s forced its way through 
his clenched teeth. His daughter crept along the 
passage to his room, and stood there for many 
minutes. But she dared not invade that grief and 
terror. She had no efficacy there. She crept back 
like a forlorn ghost to her own room. 

6 

“ No,” said Wace, pushing his plate away. 
“ I won’t eat anything to-night.” 

“ You said that last night,” his daughter 
complained. 

“ Yes.” 

“ Shall I ask Mrs. Williams to make you some- 
thing light, an omelette or something ? ” 

“ No. I’ll have a brandy and soda. I’ll take it 
into the sitting-room.” 

“ Let me take it for you, daddy.” 

“ Thank you, Judy. You’re a good girl.” 

They went into the sitting-room. She handed 
him a cigarette. 

“ You, Judy ? ” 

“ No, thanks. I won’t smoke.” 



THE PURSUER 


137 


They sat in silence for some time. 

At last she spoke. She unclenched her fists and 
her breath came short and sharp, like somebody 
going out for the first time into the night and the 
cold, in a dangerous country. 

“ Is it going to go on like this always ? ” 

“ Like what ? ” he asked suspiciously. “ Like 
what ? ” 

“ You look so wTetched. You don’t eat any- 
thing.” 

“ What can I do ? ” 

“ Are you going to build up your business again 
to where it wais ? ” 

“ I’ve lost interest in my business.” 

“ Daddy ! ” 

“ Yes.” 

” Why shouldn’t we go away somewhere ? ” 

He stopped and looked at her. He said noth- 
ing for two full minutes. Then he broke the 
silence. 

“ Do you really want to know why ? ” he 
asked. 

“ If you want me to,” she answered, her voice 
hardly above a whisper. 

Again one minute and another passed before 
he said a word. Then once more he asked : “ Shall 
I tell you why ? ” This time she made no reply. 

Still for a long time he considered the matter. 
Then at last he said : 



THE PURSUER 


138 

“ Because he’d go after me, wherever I went.” 

The silence was so intense and so prolonged 
they looked like waxworks, placed by another 
hand in their two chairs. 

“ Well,” he said at length. “ Why don’t you 
say anything ? ” 

“ What can I say ? ” she murmured. Her face 
was deathly pale. 

“ I have an enemy,” he said. 

“ I know,” she murmured. 

“ How do you know P ” He suddenly started 
in his chair. “ Has anybody said anything ? ” 
He looked at her with burning eyes. “ Anybody 
at all ? ” 

“ Nobody at all.” 

“ How do you know ? ” 

“ I’ve always known. Even in Doomington. 
It’s been worse here. In the train, at the cinema, 
wherever we went.” Her voice was quite toneless. 
She did not raise her eyes from the floor. 

“ Daddy, daddy,” she said. “ What are you 
going to do ? ” 

“ You know what I’m going to do,” he said 
sombrely. 

“ No, no,” she shrieked suddenly. She rose and 
stretched her arms out above her head. “No, I 
don’t know anything ! Don’t you see ? ” She 
went across to him and held his head between her 
hands. “ It’s got to be like that ! ” 



THE PURSUER 139 

“ Yes, Judy. I see. You don’t know anything. 
It’s got to be like that ! ” 


7 

Sometimes he neglected his office for days on 
end. He left his clerks to look after things. He 
mooched about in old clothes. She had no idea 
where he went. 

Now and again he came in long after midnight. 
She dared not ask herself what he might be doing, 
what he might already have done. She waited 
till he had gone in the morning and then pounced 
on the newspaper. But, with the newspaper in 
her hand, a sudden terror descended on her. 
She dared not unfold it, for fear of the hideous 
news it might contain. She opened it at length 
and her eye passed feverishly from column to 
column. Then she folded it again. Not yet. She 
could not see there was any news yet to perturb 
her. 

She tried hard to believe sometimes that it 
was all a nightmare. She had, somehow, en- 
tangled herself, too, in an illusion. There was no 
pursuer at all. Nothing would happen to en- 
danger her. She picked up the morning newspaper 
indifferently. But not many days later she might 
take some journey with him. From the way his 
hands twitched and his head turned this way and 



THE PURSUER 


140 

that, she felt she dared not allow herself to be so 
comforted — if it was comfort to think a mere 
spectre so appalled him. Oh no. It was something 
more solid than a spectre that pursued him and 
taunted him and bade him strike. 

It was long after midnight, one night, and he 
had not yet come in. She was almost dead with 
apprehension. She went up to bed, but she could 
not sleep. She switched her light on, but she 
could not read. At last she heard the key turned 
in the front door. She heard his feet, coming up 
the stairs. They stopped at his own door, then 
they hesitated. Then they came further along the 
passage. They stopped at her door. He knocked. 
He had something to tell her. What was it he 
had to tell her at this hour ? Her heart stopped 
beating. She could not bring herself to say come 
in. She heard him move back again along the 
passage. She jumped out of bed and ran to the 
door and opened it. 

“ Yes, daddy ? ” she called out. “ What is it ? ” 
Her eyes were round with fright. 

“ I saw your light on,” he said heavily. “ Then 
when you didn’t answer, I thought you’d fallen 
asleep.” 

“ Is there ... is there anything you want to 
say ? ” 

“ I thought I’d ... I thought I’d like to have 
a word with you.” 



THE PURSUER 


141 

The colour came slowly back into her cheeks 
again. “ Come in. I’ll switch the stove on. Sit 
down in this chair, daddy.” 

“ Get back into bed again, Judy.” 

“ All right. You look . . . Oh daddy, you look 
so tired ! ” 

“ No. I’m all right.” 

“ Do you want anything ? Would you like to 
smoke ? ” 

“ No.” 

“ All right. Is there anything I can do ? ” 

“ No, Judy, thanks. I just wanted to say some- 
thing.” 

She waited for him. He must take his own time. 

“ It’s this.” He hesitated again, then he went 
on. “ I don’t know how it will be. You know 
what I mean ? No, Judy, no. I’m sorry. You 
don’t know what I mean.” 

Her eyes filled with tears. “ I do, oh I do. 
Daddy, is it possible ? Any other way ? ” 

He looked wretchedly into the red coils of the 
electric stove. “ We won’t talk about it, Judy. 
That’s not what I came to talk about.” 

“ All right,” she whispered. 

“ What I mean is this. It may be all right, or 
it may not. You can’t tell. I intend to come back, 
after. You won’t know. Nobody’ll know.” 

After. She had to bite hard on her tongue to 
prevent herself screaming. He seemed conscious 



THE PURSUER 


142 

of some emotion of dismay or horror that had 
been generated within her. “ I’ll go now,” he 
said. She saw the unspeakable loneliness in his 
eyes. “ Don’t go,” she whispered. “ Say what 
you’ve come to say.” 

“ Only this. I may come back. Also, I may not 
come back.” 

“ Where’ll you go ? ” 

“ I don’t know. Abroad somewhere. My pass- 
port’s all right. People won’t connect things, 
you know. You’ll be able to say : It was just 
his nerves. He simply had to get away. You 
see ? ” 

“ Yes, I see.” 

“ I just thought I’d like to say this. I’ve got 
quite a lot of money in bank-notes. But I might 
be in a bit of a hole some time.” He was fiddling 
about in the carpet with one toe, awkwardly, 
like a school-boy. “ I want to hand over some 
more to you. You’d help me out, if it came to it, 
wouldn’t you ? ” 

She did not answer. She fixed him with her 
eyes. “ Listen, daddy,” she said. “ Are you 
listening ? ” 

“ Yes, I’m listening.” 

“ I don’t think you remember. A long time 
ago — I think I was eleven or twelve — I made a 
promise to you.” 

“ Yes.” 



THE PURSUER 


143 

“ It was after my mother went off, for the 

second time.” 

“ Oh yes.” 

“ Do you remember ? ” 

“ I don’t think I do.” 

“ I said I’d look after you. I meant it. And I 
mean it now. I’ll look after you.” 

He got up from his chair. He was blushing 
violently. He turned his back on her. “ Of course 
I remember,” he said. He went along to the 
door and still with his back to her he added, 
“ You won’t be such a fool ! I’ll look after 
myself, if I’ve got to.” 

“ All right,” she said quietly. 

8 

He had decided to shoot him. That was the 
cleanest and neatest way. He hung about the 
public-houses in the East India Dock Road and 
picked up a revolver without much trouble. He 
set himself to find out all he could about Sharp- 
ies’s habits in his home on the Regent’s Park 
Canal. He was very patient. Time did not matter. 
There was a public-house on the further side of 
the canal. It had a big room on the first floor 
where they had free-and-easy sing-songs now and 
again. He gleaned a fact or two of great import- 
ance from that point of vantage. He learned that. 



THE PURSUER 


*44 

whenever Sharpies was at home, he never failed 
to take his dog out into the garden, for a run after 
dinner, at nine o’clock. It was always nine 
o’clock to the dot. Sharpies was becoming quite 
a pernickety old gentleman. It wasn’t quite the 
garden he took the dog into. It had too much 
rockery and flower-bed and too little lawn for the 
dog to stretch his legs properly. He opened a gate 
in the iron railings and went out into a coarse 
strip of grass between the garden and the canal. 
On one side the garden and the strip of grass were 
bordered by the high wall of a warehouse that 
went straight down to the canal-bank. There was 
nothing to be done on that side. There was a 
warehouse on the other side, too, but it was 
conveniently separated from Sharpies’s house by 
a narrow alley. On this side a wooden fence 
continued the line of the garden down to the 
canal bank. The fence was finished off with a 
tangle of barbed wire. It was not impossible to 
get rid of the wire and worm one’s way round the 
end of the fence into the strip of grass where 
Sharpies took his dog for the nightly run. 

9 

Fog was the essence of the matter. There must 
be fog that night. He waited through the spring 
and summer days. He thought the time had come 



THE PURSUER 


145 

one day towards the end of October, but a wind 
arose that evening and the fog moved. It was 
more mist than fog. 

A few days later, as he came home from the 
office, he was startled by a loud report behind his 
ear. “ Sorry, guv’nor ! ” a voice said. He turned 
round. A couple of errand-boys were having a 
lark with fire-works. Of course, Guy Fawkes’ 
Day was coming. November the Fifth. 

“Not at all ! ” he smiled magnanimously. 
“ Go and buy yourselves some more ! ” He gave 
them sixpence. The more fire-works went off the 
next few days the better. He would shortly send 
one off too, he promised himself, if the weather 
got a little thicker. 

He was there in good time on the evening of 
November the Fifth, about twenty to nine, not 
too early. The conditions were admirable. It had 
been just foggy enough to make it rather difficult 
to find his way here. It was getting thicker now 
every minute. On the other side of the canal, 
beyond the public-house, small boys were letting 
off fire-works. You only guessed they were small 
boys. You could see nothing clear even though 
there was a lamp there. There was no lamp on 
this side at all, no light except two shafts that 
escaped from the curtains of Sharpies’s dining- 
room, that had not been properly drawn to- 
night. 

Kp 



THE PURSUER 


146 

There was first that tangle of barb.ed wire at 
the end of the fence to deal with. It had been put 
up to prevent boys working their way round to the 
strip of grass that separated the house from the 
canal. He took out of his breast-pocket the pliers 
that he had bought many months ago in a street- 
market. Then he snipped through the strands of 
barbed wire till the heap lay loose. Very carefully 
with his gloved hands he edged the stuff towards 
the water where it sank soundlessly. Then he 
worked his way round the end of the fence till 
he found himself in the territory he had long 
planned to attain. The ground sloped down 
irregularly the last few feet towards the water’s 
edge. He lay full length, waiting. 

He did not need to wait long. He heard the 
click of the French windows as Sharpies pushed 
them in front of him to step on to the lawn. 
“ Come on, now, Jock ! There’s a good dog ! ” 
The dog seemed to hesitate. “Yes, a nasty night, 
isn’t it ? ” agreed Sharpies. The dog made up his 
mind to come. As Sharpies reached the garden- 
path, there was a loud report on the further side 
of the canal. The dog started barking furiously. 

“ That’s all right, Jock ! Don’t worry ! ” said 
Sharpies, and bent down to reassure him. 
“ Please to remember the Fifth of November ! ” 
He came forward a few yards. “ Besides,” he 
went on, “ Mr. Wace is waiting for us, just by the 



SUER 


T 


147 


canal there. he won’t shoot ! He’s 

frightened ! ” 

A blackness heaved itself up from the shelving 
bank. There was another loud report. The dog 
barked furiously again, and went on barking, 
but no hand was put out to quieten him. 



CHAPTER XII 


I 

Wage fl UNG himself to earth again, then 
withdrew his body at an angle towards the end 
of the fence. He was in complete control of him- 
self He worked round the end of the fence quite 
as competently as before. He was standing on his 
feet now, in the alley between the fence and the 
warehouse. He turned and flung the revolver 
into the canal. 

He was in complete control of himself Oh no. 
Sharpies had been wrong this time if he had never 
been wrong before. He was not frightened, not 
frightened. He put one foot before the other 
steadily. He was almost out of the alley now, 
almost in the street now. 

Sharpies had known. What had Sharpies 
known ? Had he kept watch to-night at this small 
window here on the right ? Had Sharpies known 
the other nights, too, when he had gone mooching 
along the opposite side of the canal into the 
public-house there ? 

The important thing was to go steady. He was 
out in the street now. What a good thing it was 



THE PURSUER 


149 

it was so foggy. Somewhere down the road some 
more fire- works went off. A dog barked. The other 
dog was still barking out there at the back of the 
house. He would probably bark for some time. 
Nobody takes any notice when a dog barks on 
Guy Fawkes’ Night. 

It was fool-proof. Nothing could happen. 
Nobody could know. Nobody connected their 
two names in any way, nobody ever had. They 
had both played the game, hadn’t they ? That 
was the one thing they’d both stuck to, always, 
from the beginning. They’d never let anyone in 
on this, had they ? 

Even to-night. Sharpies hadn’t said a word to 
anybody, or written down a word for anybody to 
look at, in case something happened to him. 
Had he ? 

The great thing to do was just to go steady. 
Steady. Like this. How easy it was. Left, right. 
Left, right. Easy. See ? 


Then he heard the footsteps of the pursuer 
coming up after him, coming up after him. 
Quite clearly he heard the running footsteps. 
His whole body collapsed into flight. He was a 
small boy. He was running like mad down 
Blenheim Road. His heart was icy with fear. The 
other small boy was wearing a blue silk bow. He 



THE PURSUER 


150 

had green eyes. He was smiling as he ran, smiling. 
The other boy could catch him up if he wanted to, 
but he did not want to. He let him run on and 
on, blindly, wildly, into the fog. 


“ ’Ere you, what the ’ell are you up to ? ” a 
sharp voice asked him. He had edged someone into 
the gutter. He said not a word. The breath was 
labouring in his throat. The fog was choking him. 
He had not the least idea where he was. He did 
not care. He ran and ran through the steep 
fog. 

“ Hello ! What’s the game ? ” A hand reached 
out and caught him by the sleeve. It was a 
policeman, looming up out of the fog. Desperately 
he tore his arm free, and started to run again. A 
whistle sounded in the fog behind him. Another 
sounded somewhere on the left, and another 
again. He thrust his head low, and ran till he 
seemed to have come to a corner somewhere. 
He turned round that corner and round another 
corner. He ran on and on. He was now out of the 
zone of the whistling. 

Stop, you fool ! Slop ! There's no one coming up 
after you. He's dead ! Don't you realise that ! He's 
dead at last ! If you don't get yourself under control 
again, you' re lost, damned, done for. There now. Walk. 
Walk ! No need to run. That's right. Easy, now, easy. 



THE PURSUER 


I5I 

Ten seconds later he was running again, the 
pursuing feet coming up behind him, closer and 
closer behind him. 


2 

His efforts to fit the key into the keyhole were 
ludicrous, like a drunken man’s. By the time he 
had turned the key, Judy was already downstairs, 
she was hastening towards the door. 

“ Daddy, what is it ? ” 

He looked up at her through red-rimmed eyes. 
“ Oh Judy ! ” he gasped, as if he had not ex- 
pected her to be in that house, as if he had 
expected her to be a hundred miles away. 

“ What is it, daddy ? ” 

He was suddenly aware the door was still 
open behind him. He turned round and thrust 
it t© violently. Then he turned again, and stood 
there, tottering. 

She looked at him. He had lost his hat. His 
collar was soaked with sweat. His breath came 
in short gasps. The thing had happened. The 
inevitable thing she had so feared had happened. 
She assured herself fiercely she did not know what 
that thing was, any more than she knew who was 
involved in it. But he had come for her, though 
he had come for her blindly, not knowing where 
his footsteps led him. She would not fail him. 



THE PURSUER 


152 

“ Come upstairs at once ! ” she demanded 
sharply. “ I’ll make you a hot drink ! ” 

“ No ! ” he brought out. “ No ! I’ve come 
for . . .” He stood there, wondering what he had 
come for. “ Oh, I’ve come for my passport ! ” 
he said. 

“ All right. We’ll talk about that soon. Come 
upstairs.” 

He stood there, hesitating. She took him by the 
arm and led him upstairs. His weight almost 
slipped from out of her arm, down the stairs 
again. She got him into his room. 

“ Now sit down there ! ” she ordered. “ I’ll 
make you that hot drink ! You’re all right now ! ” 

There was a desk in the room where he kept 
his papers. He stumbled towards the desk. “ I 
want my passport ! ” he said, “ and my money ! ” 

“ I think they’re on you ! ” she said. She went 
over and tapped the right-hand breast-pocket of 
his coat. “ That’s it, isn’t it ? ” He put his hand 
up against the pocket. “ Yes, that’s it ! ” he said. 
He smiled stupidly. Then he opened two or three 
of the top buttons of his waistcoat. There was a 
pocket there on the left, inside. His fingers felt 
for something. “ Yes, the money’s there, too ! ” 
he muttered. 

“ I’ll bring my spirit stove in, and boil some 
hot water. I’ll go and get some whisky and a 
lemon.” 



THE PURSUER 


153 

He tried to get up again. “ I tell you I’ve got 
to go now ! ” he whimpered. “ I’ve got to go ! ” 
He passed his hand through his soaked hair. 

“ Where’ll you go ? ” 

He looked at her from under his eyelids. “ You 
know where I’m going,” he said, surlily. 

“ I’m going, too ! ” she said. 

He straightened himself in the chair, his fingers 
stiffening on its arm. “ You’re not ! ” he cried. 
“ You mustn’t ! You can’t ! ” 

“ Oh yes I am ! ” she said. “ You’re in a 
dreadful state ! I’ve got to look after you ! ” 

“ But, Judy, don’t you see ? You mustn’t 
come ! I must get out of the house, now, at 
once ! ” 

“ Daddy, listen here ! You must be sensible ! 
You’re going away ! I’ll see to that ! But I don’t 
see why it should».tbe to-morrow. Must it ? 
Wouldn’t it be better if we went off in a day or 
two ? Don’t forget ! Nobody knows ! Nothing’s 
happened ! ” 

He put his head in his hands. “ No ! no ! ” he 
cried convulsively. “ No ! I want to go now, this 
very moment ! Do you hear ? ” His voice rose in 
a shrill crescendo. 

“ You can’t ! ” she said firmly. “ That would 
be absolutely foolish. You can’t go to-night. 
There’s no point in it. We’ll go by the first train 
to-morrow. It’s all quite straightforward. I’ll 



THE PURSUER 


154 

be able to explain it quite easily. You’re ill, you’ve 
taken a turn for the worse. So I’ve decided to 
take you away at once. You see ? All as if nothing 
had happened. Nothing has happened. You 
understand ? ” 

He was sobbing into his hands. The tears 
coursed heavily down between his fingers. 

She went over to him and pressed his head 
against her bosom. “ Nothing has happened,” she 
repeated softly. “ Nothing has happened. I’ll get 
you that drink now, daddy,” she murmured. 



CHAPTER XIII 


I 

Judy held out the passports to the man at the 
barrier. The man handed them back without 
looking up. They walked up the platform to the 
carriage where their porter had found seats for 
them. 

“ There you are, daddy,” she said to him 
easily. “ You see ? It’s perfectly simple. No fuss 
at all.” 

They took their seats in corners facing each 
other on the platform side of the carriage. “ Are 
those other corners taken ? ” he asked. 

“ Yes,” she said. “ They have reserve tags on. 
Don’t worry, daddy.” 

He put his coat-collar up to his ears and 
wrapped the lower part of his face round with 
his scarf. He could not bear the transparency of 
the window beside his face. His fingers fumbled 
upwards towards the blind. 

“ You can’t, daddy ! You can’t ! ” she im- 
plored him. “ It’ll make people think you want 
to hide yourself ! Put your scarf down ! ” 

“ All right ! ” He got up from his corner and 



THE PURSUER 


156 

walked through the carriage to the corridor. He 
stood at a window there, studying the rails and 
signals. Their fellow-passengers got in, a couple 
of maiden ladies. He twisted his head cautiously 
round to examine them. They did not seem to 
add to his fears. A moment or two before the 
train moved off, Judy remembered she had no 
reading matter. She bought a handful of 
magazines and newspapers. 

The whistle sounded. The train drew out of the 
station. Wace came back to his corner-seat again. 
Judy smiled at him. “ All right ? ” her eyes asked 
him. He nodded. She sat there looking at him for 
some five minutes or so. He looked very pale and 
haggard ; his eyelids fluttered down over his eyes ; 
his head jerked once or twice. He was falling 
asleep ; it would be excellent if he got some 
sleep. 

She put the magazines down beside her and 
picked up one of the newspapers. It rustled and 
crackled as she opened it out. Suddenly she felt 
her father’s hands fasten round her wrists. 

“ Put it away ! ” he said fiercely. “ Do you 
hear ? Put it away ! ” 

She tried to steady him with her eyes. “ Yes, 
daddy ! ” she said calmly. “ It is a rag. I didn’t 
ask for it ! ” She folded the paper and put it 
behind her. “ The Times is all light, isn’t it ? ” 

“ Ye-es.” 



THE PURSUER 


157 

She did not read The Times long, either. She 
picked up a magazine and skimmed through the 
pictures. “ Would you like one, daddy ? ” She 
handed him another magazine, and he took it. 
But it soon slipped between his fingers. 

Some minutes later she spoke to him again. 
“ Shall I ring for a drink ? Are you all right ? ” 

“ No ! I don’t want a drink ! I’m all right ! ” 

How could he explain to her tliat it was not 
wheels he heard, but the sound of feet remorse- 
lessly pursuing ? Dub-a-dub, the feet went, 
dub-a-dub, dub-a-dub. 

The rhythm of the engines of the Channel 
steamer was identical, dub-a-dub, dub-a-dub, 
the feet, the running feet. He groaned in his 
misery. “ He is more alive than he has ever been 
before.” 


2 

She had been to Paris a year or so ago with one 
of her friends, but he had never been. They had 
only booked to Paris. There had been no time to 
see further than that. 

“ Well, daddy,” she said. “ It’s going to be 
fun in Paris. You’ll love it.” This was on the 
journey from Boulogne. 

“ Yes,” he said. The word was merely a sound, 
because she seemed to expect some sort of a 
sound from him. 



THE PURSUER 


158 

“ How long would you like to stay in Paris ? ” 
“ What ? ” 

“ How long would you like to stay in Paris ? ” 
He took the words separately, and then labori- 
ously assembled them again. Their meaning 
seeped slowly into his brain. 

“ Stay in Paris ? ” he asked. His speech was 
indistinct. He did not bring his lips together 
properly as he formed his words. “ I don’t want 
to stay in Paris.” 

She looked round the other people in the 
carriage swiftly. They were all French, she 
thought. But possibly some of them spoke Eng- 
lish. She would not force the matter now. “ No, 
daddy, of course not,” she said easily. “ We want 
to get to the sunshine as soon as possible.” 

The attendant came round to say that lunch 
was being served. “ You’d best come along and 
have something to eat,” she said. 

“ I don’t want anything ! ” 

“ You ought to try ! ” 

“ No, Judy, I won’t go in there ! ” 

He wasn’t only not hungry. She saw he couldn’t 
bear the idea of sitting at close quarters with 
other people. He would not be able to manage 
the implements. His hands had been trembling 
throughout the whole journey. 

“ All right ! ” she resigned herself. 

“ You go ! ” he said. The thought for her 



THE PURSUER 


159 

entered briefly into the profound gloom of his 
preoccupation with himself. It was extinguished 
almost at once. “ If you like ! ” he added 
wretchedly. 

She was extremely hungry. “ No ! ” she said, 
“ I’ll stay. I’m not hungry.” She had slipped a 
bar of chocolate into her bag. “ This is all I 
want ! ” 

Dub-a-dub, the feet went, dub-a-dub, dub-a-dub. 


On their arrival in Paris, she had their bags 
put into the luggage-office. “ Let’s go and 
stretch our feet,” she said. “ We’ll have some 
coffee and some croissants at a cafe near the 
station, shall we, and we’ll make up our minds 
what we’re going to do.” 

There was no fog in Paris. The smell of the 
place invigorated her. It was cold, but there 
were people sitting outside the cafes, at small 
tables near the braziers. The taxis hooted 
and swerved. A small boy in his smock walked 
along the boulevard with a basket from which 
projected half a dozen thin loaves of bread a 
yard long. He walked as casually as if this were 
some small village in the country. A girl stood 
on the rounded curb, carefully pencilling her 
eyebrows with the aid of a small mirror. The 
clean baby on a hoarding the length of a block 



THE PURSUER 


i6o 

of buildings exhorted the world to use Savon 
Cadum. 

“ Well, daddy, will this do ? ” She had stopped 
at one of the cafes on the boulevard. 

“ No,” he said. “ Can’t you find one in a 
side street somewhere ? We mustn’t be long,” 
he added. 

They went down one side street and down 
another. 

“ Is this all right ? ” 

“ Yes. This will do. No, Judy, no. Let’s go 
further in, away from the street.” 

“ Daddy. We’re in Paris. We’re in a side 
street off a side street. Nobody knows us.” 

“ I know,” he said. “ I know. I want to go 
to that table down there.” 

She sighed. “ All right.” She ordered some 
coffee. There were some hard-boiled eggs and 
sandwiches on the zinc counter. She ordered 
these too. 

“ We’re not going to stay long,” he said 
suspiciously. 

“ We’re all right for time, daddy. We’ve got 
all the time in the world.” 

“ Oh no, we haven’t. When does the next 
train go ? ” 

Where ? ” 

“ )\.nywhere. To the south. As far away as 
possibi'^*” 



THE PURSUER 


l6l 

“ You mean Marseilles ? ” 

“ Yes, Marseilles, then,” 

“ Wouldn’t you like to stay in Paris for a 
day or two ? In some little hotel, somewhere. 
We could find one where tourists never go.” 

“ I want to move on,” he wailed. “ It’s too 
near. You needn’t come, if you don’t want to.” 

She saw that there was nothing to be done 
with him now. His nerves were shot to pieces. 
There was nothing at all to do but move on. 
“ Of course we’ll move on,” she said. “ There’s 
a darling, get something inside you.” 

“ That man, behind the counter. Is he listen- 
ing ? ” 

“ Oh daddy, of course he isn’t. I’ll have to 
shake you if you talk so foolishly. Get on with 
your coffee.” 

They finished their meal. “ Well,” he said. 
“ What about the next train to Marseilles.” 

“ We’ll go to the station and find out.” 

He rose as if to accompany her. Then he sat 
down again. “ No,” he said. “ You go your- 
self. I don’t like it near the station. I’ll stay 
here.” 

“ Very well then.” 

“ Come back as soon as you can,” he called 
out after her. 



i 62 


THE PURSUER 


3 

“ Look ! ” she cried. “ There’s the Mediter- 
ranean ! Did you ever see such a lovely colour ! ” 
“ It’s lovely ! ” he said. “ It’s lovely.” Sud- 
denly she found he was crying. The tears ran 
steadily down his cheeks. He felt about for his 
handkerchief. 

“ Daddy ! ” she whispered. “ Don’t ! You 
mustn’t ! Not here ! Those people are looking ! 
I’ll put you to bed in Marseilles and keep you 
there for a day or two. You’ll be all right when 
you’ve had some rest.” 

“ I heard his feet coming up after me all 
night long.” 

“ You must pull yourself together. Nobody’s 
coming after you, nobody. You’ve got away. 
Do you understand ? We’re going to be all right. 
Look ! Those must be olive groves ! Do you see ? 
Then we’ll make enquiries. We might find a 
little pension somewhere. What’s that you say ? 
Not a pension ? No ? Oh no ! Of course not. 
We’ll see. We’ve got time. The most important 
thing is a couple of days in bed in Marseilles. 
We should be in in under an hour.” 


She drove him straight to a hotel in Marseilles 
and gave him a sleeping-draught. He slept for 



THE PURSUER 


most of the day. She went out in the ev 
for half an hour or so in the Cannebi^re. W. 
she came back, she found him in her room. 

“ What’s the matter, daddy ? I’m so sorry. 
I thought I needed some air. I was only out 
for half an hour.” 

“ Are the tourist-ofhces closed ? ” 

“ Yes, daddy. Oh you’re not going to start 
worrying again. You mustn’t. It’s silly.” 

“ I want to get away in a ship. Judy, do let 
me get away. I’ll be all right, I know I will, 
if we get over to the other side somewhere. 
Find out, Judy, when the next ship sails to 
Africa. It’ll be all right if we get to Africa.” 

She dropped her hands to her sides helplessly. 
“ Perhaps you’re right,” she said. She felt very 
tired. “ The crossing will do you good. And it’ll 
all be so different there. I’ll go and inquire at 
a tourist agency the first thing to-morrow morn- 
ing. 

“ You’re a darling,” he said. He made for 
the door of the room. 

“ Would you like to dress and come out for 
an hour or two ? ” 

“ No, I’ll stay and watch the people through 
the curtain. You’re a good girl, Judy. You go 
out if you want to.” 

“ Can I ? ” 

“ Don’t stay too long.” 



THE PURSUER 


162 


. boat was sailing next day to Algiers. He 
^emed almost gay when the ship weighed 
anchor and they moved away from the harbour- 
side. 

“ This is fine ! ” he said. “ This is fine ! ” 
He sniffed the evening breeze keenly. “ It’s 
going to be fine, over there, on the other side.” 



CHAPTER XIV 


I 

For several weeks Wace was fairly happy 
in Algiers. He seemed comforted by the thought 
that he had put Europe a sea’s width behind 
him. He found a little cafe in the upper town, 
built up against the wall of the Kasbah, and he 
seemed to draw assurance from the fact that 
no one could enter the cafe from behind him. 
From where he sat, he commanded the city 
and the port and the bay. He drank innumerable 
cups of native coffee and once or twice playfully 
put to his lips a pipe of kif. ^ndy looked on watch- 
fully and with approval. She did not think it 
would be injurious if he dulled his nerves a 
little by a tug at the opiate stuff now and again. 
He was quite happy to go up to the cafe on his 
own and sit there for hours while Judy wandered 
about the town. 

One day she returned for him in the late 
afternoon as had been arranged, and she found 
him gone. A panic seized her. He had heard the 
footsteps again. He had seen the shadow. She 
had a wild impulse to go tearing through the 



THE PURSUER 


166 

narrow streets calling his name. But she told 
herself she must not be a fool. He had felt unwell 
and had gone back to the hotel. That was all 
there was to it. 

She went back to the hotel at once and found 
she had been right and wrong. He was there 
right enough, but he had locked the door of 
the room. He had spread a game of patience 
before him but had gone no distance with it. 

“ What on earth’s the matter ? ” she said. 
“ Why on earth weren’t you at the cafe when 
I came for you ? ” 

“ I’m not going to that cafe again.” 

“ Why not ? ” 

“ Oh it doesn’t matter.” 

“ Come now, daddy. Why not ? ” 

“ A boy came to the cafe and called old 
Hussein to come down to him.” 

“ Hussein ? ” 

“ Yes, that’s the man who keeps it.” 

“ Well ? ” 

“ So Hussein went down and talked to some- 
body. Down in the street. A stranger. I think 
he was English.” 

“ Are you sure he was English ? Did you hear ? 
Hussein doesn’t know any English. You re- 
member, we tried him ? ” 

“ The man looked English.” 

“ He might have been anything. And what’s 



THE PURSUER 167 

wrong with Hussein talking to a stranger, to an 
Englishman for that matter ? ” 

Wace’s jaw set firm. “ I’m not going back to 
that cafe again.” 

“ All right, daddy. If you don’t want to. 
We’ll find another cafe.” 


But that wasn’t enough. They had to find 
another hotel, too. They moved out to the 
suburb of Mustapha, and were there only four 
or five days. They took the train eastward to 
Constantine. The dark wild hills of the inland 
country seemed somehow to soothe him. It was 
as if he thought those sheer walls of rock were 
too steep for foot to follow and there was not 
sustenance, even for a ghost, in pastures as arid 
as these. They stayed for two months in Con- 
stantine, He would sit in the cafes looking down 
on the ravines which engirdled the town. Who 
would dare follow him here ? One day she saw 
him thrust through an open window a pot of 
flowers that stood on a ledge there. They heard 
the thing smash on the rocks far below. He 
turned to her and smiled. 

But the smile went soon. The fear came back 
into his eyes again. They were not alone when 
they went along the rock ramparts in the cool 



THE PURSUER 


1 68 

of the evening. They were not alone when they 
went back again to their hotel. 

So they went on to Tunis. It was in Tunis he 
called her over to him one day. “ Listen, Judy,” 
he said. “ I’ve been thinking about you.” 

“ That’s fine,” she replied jocularly. “ Aren’t 
we a devoted pair ! ” 

“ I don’t think it’s fair to you,” he replied 
sombrely. 

“ What do you mean ? ” 

“ I’m not going to let you waste your life like 
this.” 

“ Don’t be silly ! ” Her voice was quite sharp. 

“ I want you to leave me. I’ve made up my 
mind.” He spoke with some pretence of assurance. 
“You can go back to England, if you like.” His 
voice was less assured. 

“ I won’t go back to England, or anywhere 
else. You know perfectly well I won’t.” 

“ I’ve told you I want you to go back,” he said 
tiredly. “ All right. I’ll read my book, now.” 
She left him to his book. She was touched and a 
little disturbed that he should be thinking of her 
again in these terms. In small matters he had 
been thoughtful from the beginning. 

Three days later she came back from a brief 
excursion into the bazaars to find out that he had 
packed up his bag and had left the hotel. He had 
left a message at the desk to say the lady would 



THE PURSUER 


ibg 

know where he had gone. “ Oh yes,” she said 
casually. “ I thought it was to-morrow he was 
going.” 

She realised immediately that any idea of 
going out after him to find him was useless and 
dangerous. He might have doubled on his tracks 
westward back to Constantine, but she thought 
that was improbable. He might have gone south- 
ward towards Sousse and Sfax. He might have 
taken a ticket at one of the shipping offices in any 
direction at all. That would not have been too 
hard to find out, but she thought it unwise to 
draw attention to him by instituting inquiries. 
On the whole she thought it likeliest that he had 
gone to some other hotel in the town. He would 
probably keep to his room for days, perhaps 
for a week or two. Then he would come back 
again. 

Ten days of extreme anxiety followed. How 
could he possibly get on without her ? If a sudden 
panic descended on him, what might he not do 
to himself? Ought she not to get in touch with 
some private detective agency here ? Not that, 
above all. He would be more than morbidly 
sensitive to the faintest hint that he was being 
shadowed or inquired after. 

She kept herself under control, though it was 
difficult. On the morning of the tenth day after 
his disappearance, there was a knock at her door. 



THE PURSUER 


170 

It was not her breakfast. They had already 
brought it to her. She knew who it was. 

“ Come in,” she said quietly. 

“ Good morning, Judy,” he said. He looked 
very pale. “ It’s very good of you to be here 
still.” 

“ What did you expect ? ” 

“ I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “ I was very 
frightened, sometimes.” 

“ You’d best have a good hot bath,” she said. 
“ They hadn’t any hot baths where you were ? ” 
“ No.” 

“ All right then. We’ll go out to lunch when 
you’re ready, shall we ? ” 

“ Yes, Judy, thank you.” He was very subdued. 


They made an excursion next day alongside 
the flamingo-haunted lagoon to La Goulette and 
two or three miles further, to Carthage and its 
ruins. The ruins did not stir his sullen imagina- 
tion, but the flamingoes delighted him. He 
chuckled with pleasure. A flush came back into 
his cheeks again. He seemed like someone about 
to take a turn for the better after a long illness. 
There was a serenity in the way he sat back that 
night, after dinner, over his coffee. He asked for a 
cigar, too. It was becoming urgent to say one or 
two things to him, but she thought it would-be 



THE PURSUER 


I7I 

unkind to invade this poor mood of quietness, 
which came upon him so rarely. She spoke to 
him the following evening. 

“ Are you all right for money, daddy ? ” 

He smiled at her slyly. “ That’s all right. I saw 
to all that. We can go on for a long time as we’re 
going on now.” 

“ The house is locked up, you know.” 

“ Yes.” 

“ Would you like me to get Mrs. Williams back 
some time ? You won’t want to be travelling 
always, will you ? ” 

All the colour left his cheeks. He put his hand 
before his mouth. “ Hush ! For God’s sake, be 
quiet ! Don’t mention names ! ” 

“ But, daddy, there’s a hundred thousand Mrs. 
Williamses. All over Wales ” 

He got up from his chair. “ I’m going ! ” he 
cried. “ You’re bad to me ! ” His lips were 
quivering. 

She felt that now, having gone so far, she must 
go a little further. She rose, too, and put her hands 
on his shoulders. “ Sit down, daddy ! ” she bade 
him. “ Sit down ! ” He doubled up limply into 
his chair. “ Listen ! Nobody can hear in this 
room ! I wouldn’t talk if there was the slightest 
chance of anybody catching a word. If you’re 
happy travelling about from place to place, I’m 
happy, too. Most girls I know would give their 



THE PURSUER 


172 

eyes for the chance. But I want to make sure it’s 
the best thing for you. It might be perfectly all 
right for us to go back to England. We can’t know 
unless we make some effort to find out.” 

All the colour left his cheeks. His lips were 
almost as pale. “ I can’t go back to England ! ” 
he whimpered. “ I can’t ! Leave me alone, 
Judy ! ” 

“ Daddy ! ” She went over to him and sat on 
the arm of his chair. She passed her hand gently 
over his forehead. “ Daddy, darling, I’m here, see. 
I’m beside you ! What are you frightened of? 
You were so clever, weren’t you ? You know you 
were.” 

He made no reply. 

“ Yes, daddy ? ” she insinuated gently. “ If 
you’d only let me know what you’re frightened of. 
Is it people ? Is it something less than people ? ” 
She went on playing with his hair, one arm 
round his shoulder. Then slowly she became 
aware there was too much stiffness in the head, 
the whole body was rigid. She whipped round 
and faced him. His eyes were staring straight in 
front of him. They looked like opaque glass balls. 
Only in his fingers was there any movement at all. 
They dithered faintly like moths half dead. She 
seized his head and chafed it between the palms 
of her hands. She snatched the flowers out of a 
vase and sprinkled the water on him sharply. 



THE PURSUER 173 

“ Daddy ! Daddy ! ” she moaned. “ I’ll never 
talk like that to you again. Never again ! ” 

His eyelids flickered at last. He looked up into 
her eyes stupidly. “ What were you saying, 
Judy ? What were you saying ? ” 

“ ril put you to bed ! ” she whispered. “ Come, 
darling ! ” 


She was awakened a couple of nights later by 
the sound of feet in the next room marching 
steadily, a few paces forward, a few paces back- 
ward, then forward again. It was her father. She 
debated with herself whether she ought to go to 
his room and reason with him and urge him to 
get to bed again. She wondered whether he would 
resent her intrusion. Must he be left alone to 
fight his daemon ? As she lay there, miserably 
wondering what she had best do, the feet halted. 
She heard him open his door and come along the 
passage to her room. She had jumped out of bed 
and opened the door before he knocked. 

“ Oh, daddy, what is it ? Can I do anything ? ” 

He held a folded handkerchief to his cheek. 
“ I have a tooth,” he said. “ Do you happen to 
have anything ? ” 

“ Oh, you poor thing ! ” She rushed back into 
her room and searched her things. “ Nothing, 
nothing at all ! Oh yes, some aspirin ! Shall we 



THE PURSUER 


174 

wake the people up and find out if there’s any 
chance of a dentist at this hour ? ” 

“ No, I’ll wait till to-morrow. If I could only 
get an hour or two’s sleep. . . .” 

“ I know. We’ll wake Ali up. He sleeps on a 
mattress in the passage. He knows where every- 
thing is. He’ll get us some brandy.” She remem- 
bered that she could usually get him off to sleep 
with a glass of brandy and a couple of aspirins. 
“ I’ll powder a couple of aspirins, too, and put 
them in the tooth. Come to the light and show 
me. 

That is how it came about there was a whole 
bottle of brandy in his bedroom, excepting for 
the glassful he had taken to swallow his aspirins. 

He went to the dentist next day and had the 
tooth drawn. The next few days were unusually 
tranquil. He went to bed that evening and read 
for an hour, then switched his light out. But as 
he slept, one after one the hounds of nightmare 
were unleashed. He ran and ran with the hounds 
in full cry after him. He turned his head and saw 
their fangs grinning and their slavering chops. 
He threw himself down before them so that they 
should at length fall upon him and tear him to 
pieces, so that he should be at peace at last. But 
an invisible hand restored them to their leashes, 
so that, though they strained towards him, 
coughing and grunting hideously, they got no 



THE PURSUER 


175 

nearer to him. At length he rose wearily to his feet, 
and began running again. Reran faster and faster, 
but the beasts were slipped from their leashes 
again. They ran as fast as he. 

He woke up from the nightmare in a pool of 
sweat. His pyjamas seemed to have been steeped 
in icy water. He remembered the brandy on the 
shelf above the washstand and filled his tooth- 
glass with a hand that shook like a leaf. His hand 
was a little steadier when he filled the glass a 
second time. He went on drinking till he had 
drained the whole bottle. 

He had hardly taken more than a finger or 
two of strong drink for many years now. He was 
drunk. He had passed completely out of himself. 
He looked round the room cautiously to see if he 
was looking at himself. Then, to make sure, he 
went over to the bed and thumped the bed- 
clothes. No, he was not there. He was not under 
the bed, either. Satisfied, he went back to the 
brandy bottle. He had drained every drop of it, 
so he looked round for some other occupation. 
His eye lit on a blotting-pad on the small table 
by the window. It was a blotting-pad, but it had 
no blotting-paper. There was also a bottle of ink 
there, and a pen, and one or two hotel sheets of 
paper and envelopes. He was shivering a little, so 
he went across to the hook where he had hung his 
dressing-gown and put it on. Then he sat down 



THE PURSUER 


176 

at the table again and wrote a letter. It was very 
brief. 

Dear Sharples, 

I haven’t any doubt you are in hell. My only 
regret is that I didn’t send you sooner. I am 
in hell, too, if that’s any comfort to you. But 
you’ve not caught me yet. 

Yours truly, 

H. Wage. 

He noticed there was no blotting-paper in the 
pad, so he waved the letter before his face for a 
minute or two, breathing on it now and again. 
He then passed his finger over it lightly to see 
that it was quite dry. Then he folded it and put 
it neatly into one of the hotel envelopes. He 
addressed it to : 

Sidney Sharples 
In Hell 

and made sure the envelope, too, was quite dry. 
He then addressed himself to the process of the 
best way to get Sharpies’s letter forwarded, and 
he decided the people in his office in Mincing 
Lane would probably be in touch with him. He 
forwarded it in their care. 

Then he went over to his coat and took out his 
wallet. No, he had no stamp. He had written no 
letters lately. He had best hand it over to the 



THE PURSUER 


177 

youth, Ali, to post it the first thing to-morrow 
morning. Ali was the hotel youth-of-all-work. 
By day he did all the running and fetching for 
the hotel, by night he slept on a mattress extended 
along the stone passage in front of the entrance 
door, Wace opened his door carefully and went 
downstairs, Ali was leaning up on his mattress, 
supported on the palms of his hands. 

“ Yes, monsieur^’ he whispered. He had been 
used more than once for delicate errands with 
which clients of the hotel thought it best not to 
entrust madame. But now he was required for no 
such gallant service, 

“ Post this letter first thing to-morrow morn- 
ing,” said Wace. “ Keep the change from this 
note.” 

He had not only a bad cold but a worse head- 
ache next morning. He saw Judy’s eye rest a 
moment on the empty brandy bottle on the shelf 
above the washstand. He hung his head like a 
guilty schoolboy. 

“ Yes, Judy,” he said, “ I’m afraid I did, 
every drop of it. You’d best not leave any more 
about.” 

“ I won’t,” she said grimly. “ Trust me.” 

She doctored him very capably and he was all 
right again in a week or so. 



THE PURSUER 


178 

The nightmare came back to him. The pursuer 
looked at him through the caK windows from 
imder the brim of his hat. The pursuer came 
running up in blue overalls from the docks, his 
feet going softly dub-a-dub, dub-a-dub, on the 
cobbles. Wace went into his daughter’s room early 
one morning. 

“ Judy,” he said. “ I know you like this place.” 

“ Yes,” she replied, a ray of hope quickening 
her heart. Yes, she liked this place. If they had to 
be away another few months, or a year or two, 
it might as well be Tunis as anywhere else. Was 
he feeling safer here ? Did he think he had got 
away at last ? 

“ It’s the nicest place we’ve been to, isn’t it ? ” 
he went on. 


“ I think it is in many ways ”, 

“ Would you like to stay „ ? ” 

T..1 4. j on here . 

What do you mean ^ „ 

“ Till I come back fo,j^’ ? Or I might send 

for you ? ” , 

“ What are you talk. ? .. 

Judy, Judy, I must ° „ 

“ Then you shall go, , » 

“There are so mant people!” He looked 

about him helplessly. “ people ! I’m 

frightened ! Let’s go to i^ce ! I’ll be 

quiet there I Just a fev i 1 » 

“ Yes, daddy. When '"g^^ll we go ? ” She knew 



THE PURSUER 179 

that as soon as the sickness came upon him again, 
it would brook no delay. 

“ This morning ? ” he asked eagerly. “ Can 
we go this morning ? ” 

“ Yes, of course, daddy ! ” He did not hear her 
faint sigh or mark the hopeless expression in her 
eyes. 

They went on to the small towns of Sousse and 
Sfax, but the pursuer went after them. From 
Sfax they took the single-track railway into the 
heart of the country and attained the oasis of 
Gafsa. From Gafsa they went still further afield to 
the oasis of Tozeur. Here he walked with a firmer 
foot. His shoulders straightened. But the railway 
went so far as Tozeur. He felt he was still vulner- 
able. They bumped out on an old Citroen over 
fifteen miles of baked sand-tracks and so reached 
the oasis of Nefta, which stands on the edge of 
the enormous barren inland sea called the Chott 
Djerid. “ I think I shall be all right here,” he 
said. He looked as bronzed and fit as a soldier 
of the legion. “ I’m sure you will, daddy,” she 
said. “ This isn’t the other world at all. It’s a 
world all to itself. It’s lovely ! ” 

2 

Yes, Nefta was a world all to itself, poised 
between two dimensions of deep greenery and 



THE PURSUER 


i8o 

white hallucination. He would often sit for hours 
in the shadow of the mosque with his back to the 
palms and the pools and the lilies, tracing 
fantastic designs in the hot sand, till at length the 
fervid disk of the sun sank and the desert owls 
came whooping out of the emptiness. 

They arrived towards the latter days of the 
fast and feast month of Ramadan. The minaret 
that by day had been a white tulip, blossomed 
into flame at dusk. The oil-lamps were lit round 
the circuit of the parapet, so that it seemed as if 
a handful of stars had tumbled down from the 
sky head-over-heels and were caught in the iron 
sconces of the parapet while they fell. All night 
long they wandered about from booth to cafe, 
from cafe to booth. They sipped the cinnamon- 
scented tea, cross-legged on the straw-matted 
platform of the cafes. They went to the booths of 
the dancing dolls and the booths of more alluring 
dancers — the Circassian Fatima, whose face was a 
magnolia-bud and whose limbs were as volatile 
as water, the Kabyle Ayesha, who danced like a 
willow in a wind. Or they saw Mustapha enchant 
his four deadly snakes out of their wicker basket, 
numbing them with the wail of the desert bag- 
pipes, stupefying them with the thud of the drums, 
till they were poised erect like a sculptor’s snakes, 
carved out of cold jade. 

Then Rdmaddn came to its appointed end, and 



THE PURSUER l8l 

the suspension seemed to leave him blank and 
timorous, as if only that unconscionable excite- 
ment had held his doom at arm’s length. He had 
been so interested, so genuinely happy all this 
time, that the first relapse struck her like a blow 
in the face. They were sitting at a eafe one eve- 
ning under its plaited palm-leaf portico, when 
suddenly he seized her by the arm. 

“ That man there ! ” he said sharply. “ The 
one coming down the market-place ! Who is he ?” 

There were half a dozen Arabs approaehing, 
their burnouses drawn over their foreheads. She 
looked round the square to see if there was any 
European who had caught his eye. There was 
none. Elsewhere the Arabs sat about, squatting 
on their haunches, talking gravely with one 
another, or not talking at all. There was little 
animation in the square. It had been intensely 
hot all day. Everybody was happy enough to stay 
in his place, savouring the soft wind that had 
sprung up not many minutes ago. 

“ Who do you mean, daddy ? I don’t see 
anybody ! ” 

“ What’s he hiding his face like that for ? ” 

“ Which one ? He’s not hiding his face. He’s 
just got his burnous down like the others ! Which 
one ? ” 

“ The one hanging behind there ! Do you see ? 
He’s looking at us. Now he’s looking away ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


182 

“ I don’t know who he is ! Just one of the 
Arabs of the oasis ! Oh, daddy, please ! ” 

“ I don’t like him, Judy ! ” 

“ Hello, look ! He’s coming here ! He’s prob- 
ably got something to sell ! Yes ? Yes ? ” she 
asked the Arab eagerly. 

The fellow was standing beside them. He had 
noticed there were a couple of strangers at the 
cafe. He dived into a worn leather satchel 
suspended over his arm and brought out an 
assortment of rough desert brooches and brace- 
lets. “ Tris bon!'' he insisted. Bon marchS ! " 
“ There you are, daddy, you silly creature ! ” 
she chuckled. “ Buy something, daddy ! Buy that 
brooch ! I could use it as a hat-pin.” 

“ Sorry, Judy,” he muttered, shamefacedly. 
“ Silly of me. It won’t happen again ! ” 


It did not happen again for several days. And 
then she knew the respite was over. Her heart 
flooded with wretchedness. He was afraid to go 
through the narrow streets of the oasis at night 
on their way from the little square to their hotel, 
for his fear would suddenly fix on some hapless 
Arab approaching them with his burnous drawn 
down over his forehead. He would turn suddenly 
in his tracks. “ Come this way ! ” he would 
beseech her piteously. “ That fellow there ! He’s 



j THE PURSUER I83 

no' ban Arab at all ! He doesn’t walk like an 
Arab ! ” 

They arranged one morning to go out with one 
Abdul, a young guide from the oasis, to take a 
walk along the edge of the Chott. A faint breeze 
was blowing and she felt that his spirit might 
expand in the spaciousness of that white desola- 
tion. When they had gone on thus for some time, 
Abdul suggested that they should turn in upon 
a strait which led across the Chott here, where it 
was narrowest. Nowhere in that region were the 
mirages so clear, with the shimmering salt-wastes 
on every side and the alchemic sun overhead 
dissolving in its own heat and light. Abdul bade 
them keep closely behind him in single file, for it 
was only to his trained eye that the path pre- 
sented a different surface from the salt scurf o 
the Chott on either side of it. Her father walked 
between herself and Abdul. She did not know 
how long or how far they had gone on thus, for 
time and space seemed outside their normal 
dimensions. She heard bells ringing and camels 
snarling far off in the shaggy rondure of the 
oasis, but it seemed those sounds were checked 
and refracted from the convex surface of a globe 
that isolated them. Tiny worms and large snakes 
of heat undulated and curved round upon them- 
selves and so consumed themselves. The level salt 
at the edge of the horizon suddenly cracked like 



THE PURSUER 


184 

ice in a thaw, and blue water flowed up v, 
the fissures. A lake of incredible blueness sprea.. 
on that region and a dark shore asserted itself 
where there had been no shore for countless salty 
leagues. One date-palm larger than all the 
rest spread out its fretted vans over the sweet 
water. 

Then suddenly a movement near at hand threw 
a quick grey shadow over the blue myth half a 
continent away and extinguished it. Her eyes 
were aware that the solid line that, with herself 
for one of its termini, for few or many minutes, 
few or many hours, had been moving along the 
solid strait, the assurance of truth and safety 
in that false and perilous world, had been 
broken. 

“ Daddy ! ” she shrieked. “ Daddy ! Where 
are you going ? It’s not safe ! ” 

But Abdul had sped after him. With both his 
lean brown hands on his collar, he pulled him 
away from the quaking salty quick-sand that was 
already rising round his ankles. 

“ Pas bon ! ” he said severely. “ Trks mauvais ! ” 

Wace’s face was as pock-marked and ashen 
grey as the Chott itself. He was panting like an 
animal at bay. “ He was after me ! ” he whis- 
pered, his eyes large with fright. The sweat ran 
down his face in a steady sheet. 

“ Come carefully, daddy ! ” she said. “ We’ll 



THE PURSUER 


185 

go back. There’s room enough. Don’t be fright- 
ened. I don’t think we did right to choose this 
place.” 

“ It was like a lot of horses galloping ! ” he 
breathed. 

“ Yes, daddy,” she said. “ But there aren’t 
any, are there ? Take your time. That’s right. 
That’s fine.” 


3 

He had a fierce repugnance against going back 
the way he had come. It was as if he felt that his 
only chance of escape lay in moving on and on 
until he had attained some place where the pur- 
suer was at length outwitted. If he went back on 
his tracks again, he would come up against him, 
in some small waiting-room. Their trains would 
come alongside each other in a siding. He would 
be waiting for him at a ticket-barrier. 

He was aware it was possible to go from Nefta 
deeper into the heart of the desert, on to El Oued 
and Touggourt. He tried hard to make Judy go 
that way, but she stood firm. She knew he was 
quite unfit to stand the hard travelling by desert 
car. She knew also that the same difficulty would 
present itself a day or two later. They would go 
to Biskra and from Biskra they would have to 
come out on to their former track again. There 



THE PURSUER 


1 86 

was nothing for it but to go back to Tunis by 
Sfax and Sousse. 

He was very dispirited when they got to Tunis. 
“ I don’t like coming back ! ” he repeated. “ I 
don’t like it ! We’ll take a boat somewhere at 
once ! To-day ! ” 

“ Yes, daddy,” she agreed. “ It’ll do you good 
to get out to sea. The sea-wind will clear your 
head. It’ll be fine.” 

He grimaced. “It was a mistake to go to the 
desert. It was dreadful.” 

“ Wouldn’t you like to rest up a day or two 
in the hotel where we were before ? I think you 
ought. Besides, we may have to. It depends on 
the boats.” 

“ No,” he said. “ Not there. We mustn’t go 
back there. Let’s put the bags away and go and 
find out.” 

“ Where would you like to go ? Tangier ? We 
could probably get a boat to Tangier.” 

“ Hush ! ” he bade her. He looked round 
suspiciously. “ Don’t talk so loud.” He raised his 
voice. “ Yes, we might go to Tangier.” Then he 
dropped his voice again. He spoke to her without 
turning his head. “ We’ll go the other way 
instead, see ? You know where I mean ? ” 

They took tickets that morning for Alexandria. 
There was a boat sailing that same afternoon. 
It meant, too, that they did not need to go to a 



THE PURSUER 187 

hotel in Tunis. He was distrustful of Tunis. He 
sniffed the air suspiciously. 

“ I don’t like it,” he said, more than once. “ I 
wish we hadn’t had to come back here.” 

“ But daddy, there wasn’t anything else for it.” 

“ I don’t know. I suppose not. I don’t like it.” 

He refused to go into the town, so, after taking 
their tickets they drove out to the Belvedere Park. 
They spent an hour or two there and had an 
early lunch, then, though it was still several 
hours too soon for the boat, he insisted they 
should go down to the dockside. It was as if he 
wanted to keep the boat under his eye, to make 
sure it would not go off without him. He was 
irritated to find that a big warehouse fronted the 
part of the quay where the boat was berthed. 
Unless they loitered about on their feet for some 
hours, in the dust and swelter, they would have 
to move further off. They sat down under the 
tattered awning of a cheap cafe, their bags under 
the table between their feet. A short distance 
along the waterside, between the boat from 
Alexandria and the cafe, a small passenger- 
steamer was getting under way. The passengers 
were already arriving, luggage was being trundled 
up the gangways. Its siren hooted once and 
again. There was, however, still little sign of life 
on the boat for Alexandria. 

“ I wish they’d get a move on,” grumbled 



THE PURSUER 


1 88 

Wace. “ They’ve not even got the gangway 
down.” 

“ We’re not due to leave for some hours,” his 
daughter said patiently. 

Then suddenly a hearty voice hailed them. 

“ Hello, monsieur. Hello, mademoiselle. How are 
you ? ” It spoke in bastard Arab-French. 

“ Who the devil’s that ? ” Wace whispered 
fearfully. A large dark face was grinning friendlily 
into theirs. 

“ Oh, hello. All ! ” said Judy. “ It’s the Arab 
boy from the hotel,” she explained. “ Don’t you 
remember ? ” 

“ Oh, yes,” said Wace hurriedly. “ Give him 
a few francs. Tell him to go.” 

“ Here. Buy yourself some cigarettes ! ” 
requested Judy. 

Ali grinned gratefully, displaying teeth as white 
as soap-suds. “ Thank you. Thank you.” He was 
about to proceed on his errand, when suddenly 
he recalled something. “ Oh, yes,” he said. “ I 
hope the monsieur, he find you.” 

“ What ? ” said Wace. “ What’s he saying ? ” 
His eyes were starting from his head. The fingers 
round his coffee-cup trembled so that it clicked 
in the saucer like a castanet. 

“ What are you talking about ? ” said Judy 
sharply. “You mean some guide, do you, who 
wanted to take us round ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


189 

“ Oh, no,” said Ali, quite crestfallen, “ He was 
not guide. He asked for the monsieur. He was sad 
the monsieur had gone,” 

Wace’s breath came heavily through his nos- 
trils. “ Ask him,” he bade her, “ What sort 
of a gentleman he was ? What did he say to 
him ? ” 

“ What I say to him ? I say the monsieur and 
mademoiselle have gone to Sousse. See, I remem- 
ber.” He looked up pathetically for approval. “ I 
hold the bags, while mademoiselle buys tickets.” 

“ You’d best go now, Ali, do you hear ? ” She 
felt she must get rid of him that very moment, 
at all costs. What was the lout standing about 
for, with his great goggle eyes and his thick 
lips ? 

“ No.” Her father’s voice came faintly. “ Ask 
what was he like. We must know.” 

“ What was he like ? ” she asked furiously. 

The youth’s wits were quite scattered now. 
His head was shaking from side to side ludicrously. 
“ He was like ? How shall I say ? He was a 
monsieur.” 

“ Was he English ? French ? ” 

“ I not know. He talk French, I think. Yes, he 
talk French.” 

“ Was he big ? ” 

“ Not big.” 

“ Was he small ? ” 



THE PURSUER 


190 

“ Not small.” 

“ Father, we can get nothing out of him. Let’s 
get rid of him.” 

“ No, Judy, no.” He himself addressed the 
Arab. “ What more can you remember ? See. 
Here’s money. What can you remember.” 

The lad gazed covetously at the money. It 
seemed to set the mechanism of his mind work- 
ing. He described a cut in the cheek, he suggested 
a limp, alternately he said the man had a beard, 
and that his cheeks and chin were pale like 
mademoiselle's. 

“ Father,” she begged. “ He’s just lying for the 
money. I’ll send him away.” 

He sank back into his chair, with his eyes 
closed. There was not a vestige of colour in his 
face. “ I’m glad we’re going to Alexandria,” he 
said, very articulately. “ That doctor in Alex- 
andria should do me lots of good.” 

“ Yes,” she whispered. She wondered if the 
lad’s news had sent him quite crazy. 

“ Send him away,” he went on. “ Give him a 
decent tip.” 

She got rid of him. The boy went off bowing 
and smirking, but there was an air of bewilder- 
ment in his face. Judging from the tip, he had not 
done wrong, after all. Yet they had seemed very 
angry, very strange, he did not know why. He 
Went off, scratching his thick pate. 



THE PURSUER 


I9I 

“ Daddy, what did you say that for ? I don’t 
understand. Listen, daddy. It’s nothing at all. 
It needn’t be anyone at all ” 

“ Which way has he gone ? ” he asked. He 
did not open his eyes. 

“ Towards the town. Quite likely it was some 
tradesman or other that the people at the 
hotel ” 

“ Is he still in sight ? ” 

“ Yes. No. He’s just turned the corner. I’ll get 
you a drop of brandy. It’ll pull you together.” 

“ No. I don’t want anything at all.” He spoke 
in measured tones like someone rehearsing a 
part. She looked at him in astonishment and 
alarm. She had been more than half afraid he 
would give way to a wild fit of panic the moment 
the blundering fool of an Arab boy left them, but 
this grey immobility was more frightening. He 
thought for a little while, then he said : “ How 
long do you reckon it will be before that small 
steamer moves off? ” 

“ Which one ? The one along the waterside ? ” 

“ Yes.” 

“ Why ? ” 

Impatiently, he answered his own question. 
“ Less than a hour, I should think. I should say 
half an hour. What do you think ? ” 

“ I’ll go and ask, if you like. Or the man at the 
cafe here is sure to know.” 



THE PURSUER 


192 

“You must do nothing of the sort. The mail- 
bag is still hooked up on the gangway ? ” 

“ Yes.” 

“ There’s still a certain amount of stuflF to go 
into the hold ? ” 

“Yes.” She had not the faintest idea what he 
was getting at. 

“ Pay this bill.” She paid it. He opened his 
eyes. He looked calm and collected, as if he were 
in his office in London, settling the details of 
some deal. “ We’ll take our bags and go along the 
quayside to the right. There are some taxis there 
behind the warehouses. We’ll get a taxi and cruise 
about. Ten minutes later we’ll ask the driver to 
drive us straight to that boat.” 

“ What for ? We don’t know where it’s going.” 

“ Exactly,” he said. 

“ But our tickets, daddy. We’ve got our 
tickets for ” 

“ Be quiet, Judy ! Are you ready ? ” 

Then she looked at him. At last she understood. 
“ Sorry ! ” she muttered. “ What a fool I am ! ” 

Twenty minutes later, a taxi deposited them 
on the quayside opposite the boat. They rushed 
up the gangway, breathlessly, only a few minutes 
before it was detached and trundled away. 

“ That was a close shave !” they congratulated 
each other. The steward taking the tickets 
smiled sympathetically. 



THE PURSUER 


193 


“ Tickets, monsieur ! ” 

“ No time to get tickets ! ” Wace gasped. 
“ Thought we’d best do it on board ! ” 

“ Motto piacere ! ” 

The boat was making for Messina in Sicily, 
by way of Trapani and Palermo. They booked 
for Messina. 


4 

She could not remember when she had seen 
him in such good form. Every now and again he 
chuckled to himself like a small boy who has got 
the better of a schoolmaster. As they steamed 
down the canal towards the harbour opening, 
and the minarets and towers of Tunis dwindled 
behind them, he stationed himself in the stern and 
gazed triumphantly at the city he had outwitted. 
She thought once he stuck his tongue out at it. 
But she herself was not happy. She had no idea 
where they stood now. She had little enough idea 
before, but she had worked out some sort of 
system in the light of which she resisted or 
yielded to his fears. She had tried to extract from 
him the exact nature of those fears and had not 
succeeded. But as far as her own knowledge or 
experience was concerned, she had treated them 
as purely psychological, they had no relation 
with tangible fact. 

A fresh elemeiit had now entered the situation. 

Np 



THE PURSUER 


194 

Who was this mysterious caller who had inquired 
after them in the Tunis hotel ? Had he inquired 
after her father, or after both of them ? Was it not 
even possible that he had inquired only after 
her, some preposterous gallant who had eyed 
her with favour, found out where she lived and 
imagined he had only to present himself to get 
what he wanted out of her ? The thought sickened 
her, but she would have infinitely preferred that 
facile solution of the mystery, and she knew in 
her bones that she would cheat herself if she would 
permit herself to accept it even for a moment. 

The caller had inquired after her father. She 
reproached herself bitterly for not having made a 
more intelligent effort to extract from the boy, 
Ali, some coherent picture of the stranger. 
She should have handled him differently, she 
should have wheedled him back into peace of 
mind again, or bullied him until he was too 
frightened to think of telling anything but the 
truth. But it had been impossible at that moment 
to think of anything at all excepting the effect 
that the boy’s news might produce on her father. 
For the first time since they had left London, he 
was made aware that something more substantial 
than a ghost had come up out of the darkness 
and interested itself in him. If mere ghosts had 
so hounded him, how would he react to grim flesh 
and blood ? She had been ready for anything. 



THE PURSUER 


195 

She had been ready for him to dither and 
foam in panic, to fall back in a dead faint, from 
which someone not wholly the same as he might 
emerge. 

But no, he had not reacted so at all. The colour 
had left his face, but his hand had not trembled, 
his mind had worked clearer than it had worked 
for months. And once he had carried through his 
plan, once they were embarked on this unantici- 
pated journey, he was, if only briefly, a bright- 
eyed young man again. The steamer was swinging 
out now into the open gulf, midway between the 
two breakwaters that protect the harbour. He 
threw back his head and laughed loudly. It was 
a grand joke. 

Then suddenly she realised that it was precisely 
because the thing that had now manifested itself 
in the course of this insensate pursuit was some- 
thing more substantial than a ghost that the 
monstrous burden of his heart had been lightened. 
He had not himself been able to distinguish 
whether any carnal creature flung the shadow 
that fell so menacingly before him on stone pave- 
ment and salty sand. Now he had the testimony 
of another human being that it was flesh and 
blood that followed him, testimony all the more 
valuable because a wretched half-breed lad pro- 
vided it, who slept of nights like a dog on a straw 
palliasse. It was human, it had no more than one 



THE PURSUER 


196 

brain at a time and two pairs of limbs. It was 
something you could outwit, you could cut and 
run and dart off at right angles, leaving it 
bewildered in the rear, to go puffing and lumber- 
ing off to Alexandria, say. 

He would regret it later, but there was no time 
to regret it now, the fact that he did not know 
whether the creature was fat or slim, old or young, 
fair or dark. It was enough for him to know it 
was merely human. 

But was he fair or dark ? Was he fat or slim ? 
She found herself looking round among the 
passengers on deck, the commercial travellers, 
the small farmers or shopkeepers, to see if any 
of them might be he. As her neck twitched 
towards her shoulder, as her eyes swivelled 
sideways and took in all they could see and 
then swivelled back again, she was conscious of 
an imitation of her father’s gestures so exact as 
to be in the nature of parody. She smiled wryly. 
It was not that she feared for her own sake the 
incubus of his nightmare. She knew, whether 
it was a matter of days or a matter of hours, 
her father would soon enough need once more 
all she could supply of quiet nerves and a clear 
head. 

About a couple of hours after Tunis had gone 
dpwn into the sea behind them, a mountain 



THE PURSUER 


197 

came into sight, condensing into shape between 
the blue vacuums of sea and sky. It was the 
island of Pantellaria. Like the suspended cup of 
a streaked tiger-lily the volcano floated on the 
waters. 

“ Hello ! ” said Wace. “ We seem to be making 
for this island here. Do wc stay long ? ” 

“ We anchor out here for a couple of hours,” 
said the steward who had greeted the panting 
Englishman and the young lady at the top of 
the gangway. He had taken a great fancy to 
them. He thought their feat very English and 
comical. “You could not rush out to the boat 
from Pantellaria at the last moment as you did 
in Tunis, signore ! ” He thrust his elbow lightly 
into Wace’s ribs. 

“ No,” said Wace, “ no ! ” His eyes were 
shining. He turned suddenly to the steward. 
“If I were in Pantellaria — is that how you 
pronounce it ? — I shouldn’t want to ! ” His 
daughter looked at him with surprise and 
pleasure. There was a flush on his cheeks. His 
shoulders were thrust back to let the sweet sharp 
air flow into his lungs. “ What an idiot I was 
to let him go to the desert,” she told herself. 
“ The sea’s the place for him ! He’ll be himself 
in a few weeks with this air and sunshine. We 
must find some small place by the sea, somewhere 
in Sicily ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


198 

“ Hello ! ” cried Wace. “ There seem to be 
fires all over the island ! That’s strange ! There 
isn’t anything to burn, is there, up on the hill- 
side ? ” 

The steward was delighted to take him in 
hand. “ Those arefumaroli, as they call themselves. 
The whole place is a volcano, not quite dead 
yet. The fumaroli are whiffs of sulphur from 
below.” He pointed downward facetiously, and 
imitated the devil’s horns with two fingers on 
his forehead. 

“ Straight from Hell, eh ? ” laughed Wace. 
He found the idea irresistibly funny. He laughed 
again, quite uproariously. The steward joined 
in the laughter, till the two gentlemen stood 
and swayed on the deck, the tears pouring 
down their cheeks. The passengers near by 
looked on curiously. One or two smiled. One 
or two moved away. 

“ If I lean down over the hole,” asked Wace, 
“ could I look directly down into Hell, do you 
think ? ” 

“ Ho ! Ho ! Ho ! ” laughed the steward. 
“ You could see all the little devils ! ” 

“ And the big devils ? I’d like to see the big 
devils, too ! ” 

“ And the big devils, of course ! ” 

“ If you’d hold one of my hands,” said Wace, 
“I’d reach down with the other till I could 



THE PURSUER 


199 

pull their tails. Would you give me a hand ? ” 
“ If you wouldn’t pull me in ! ” gasped the 
steward, patting his belly under the distended 
blue trousers. 

“ No, I wouldn’t pull you in ! ” laughed 
Wace easily. Then his face darkened. “ What 
do you mean ? ” His tone was cold and severe. 
The steward goggled, puzzled. But the gaiety 
came back into the Englishman’s face again 
almost as quickly as it had been eclipsed. “ I 
should like to live in Pantellaria,” he said. 
“ It must be a gay place ! ” 

“ Ah, gay, that is another matter ! ” the 
steward was forced to qualify. “ A diet of fish 
and raisins is not gay ! ” 

They were letting the anchor-chain slip 
through the hawse-pipe into the water. A tiny 
armada of rowing-boats hove up along the 
narrow channel that led out from the harbour 
into the open roadstead. Wace turned to Judy. 
An idea had struck him. 

“ What would you say, Judy ? ” He spoke in 
a half-whisper. “ How about going back in 
one of those boats ? We didn’t even know our- 
selves the steamer was going to stop here. 
Wouldn’t it be a brilliant idea ? ” He looked at 
her a little doubtfully ; once more there was 
something of the schoolboy in his demeanour, 
the schoolboy who makes a suggestion too 



200 


THE PURSUER 


clever by half to his teacher, and is rather afraid 
he will be snubbed for his pains. 

She felt he had had his head too much that 
day. Sooner or later he would pay for these in- 
discretions, these colt-like buckings and boltings. 

•“ Listen, daddy ! ” she said urgently. “ It 
won’t do ! It won’t do at all ! It was all right 
once. Jumping on board, I mean, without 
tickets. That can happen to anyone. But we’ve 
booked to Messina, remember. We can’t jump 
a second time. We just ean’t do it ! ” 

He looked at her scornfully. “ What are you 
afraid of, Judy ? ” he sneered. “ What are you 
so nervy about ? All right ! I’ll give in to you ! 
I’m enjoying the voyage anyhow ! ” Then he 
bent towards her ear. “ We’ve got clear, I tell 
you ! Do you understand ? We’ve got clear ! ” 
He walked away from her and joined his friend, 
the steward, who was getting busy with the ship’s 
ladder. The rowing-boats had come within 
hailing distance. Wace made a megaphone out 
of his hands. “ Hi ! ” he bawled. “ Come sta ? ” 
“ Bene ! E lei ? ” the first boatman replied to 
the jovial foreign gentleman. 

They did not disembark either at Trapani 
or Palermo, though her father had assured 
Judy cordially there was no reason at all why 
she should not get off and stretch her legs for 
a few hours. The thought of Sicily had always 



THE PURSUER 


201 


attracted her, but somehow she felt she could 
not leave him on the boat behind her, and he 
flatly refused to go ashore. He was more vul- 
nerable, she felt, in this mood of queer fixed 
gaiety than in the dark moods when every nerve 
was alert for the pursuing shadow. 

“ It would be different,” he said, “ if Sicily 
was really an island. But it isn’t. It’s too big. 
It’s a country. I don’t want to go into a town 
either. I’m happy here, in this boat. I wish we 
could stay on for weeks and weeks.” He looked 
round the boat affectionately, as if he had 
designed it, or had something to do with the 
sailing of it. For herself, she found her cabin 
stuffy and the food dull. She did not like the 
way her father’s friend, the steward, ogled her, 
and she got no pleasure in the contemplation 
of any of the passengers. She would be glad when 
they got to Messina. 

Both at Trapani and Palermo, when the new 
passengers started embarking, she found herself 
hanging about the head of the gangway, scruti- 
nising them as they came aboard. “ But this is 
stupid ! ” she reproved herself. “ This is com- 
pletely ridiculous ! What interest can these 
people be to me ? It isn’t as if there can be the 
faintest connection between our friend in Tunis 
and any of these people ! I wonder what’s 
happening to me ! I’m going silly ! ” She looked 



202 


THE PURSUER 


at her father. He had emerged out of his shell 
completely. He was in the middle of a group of 
passengers who had embarked at Tunis, chatter- 
ing away amiably. He puffed every now and 
again at a cigar. 

“Judy,” he called out to her. “ Come and 
meet Cavaliere Respighi. Isn’t it funny ! We 
used to import pumice from his brother, in the 
old days in Doomington ! Pumice from the 
Lipari Islands ! We’re going to pass quite close 
to them, just short of Messina. This is my 
daughter, cavaliere ! ” 

Her heart sank. She was appalled. Hitherto 
he had not even uttered her name aloud. He 
had given no hint who the young woman with 
him might be, daughter or young wife or nurse. 
Now he summoned her by name as his daughter. 
He spoke of his old associations with Doomington. 
He was littering his trail as thick with clues as 
the hares on a schoolboy hare-and-hounds chase. 
She came over to the cavaliere, stood about 
awkwardly for a minute or two, and then, 
before she was quite aware of it, she was standing 
once more at the head of the gangway, looking 
suspiciously out of the corner of her eye into 
the faces of the new passengers. “ Though God 
knows,” she said to herself bitterly, “ what I 
expect to see, or how I shall recognise it when 
I see it.” 



THE PURSUER 


203 


From far off across the limpid night the high- 
lifted torch of Stromboli announced the Lipari 
Islands, where the ancients fabled that iEolus 
ruled his winds. That night he had them well at 
heel, except for one small zephyr that had begged 
if it might go wandering over the violet silk 
waters. It was a zephyr so small and cool that the 
silk fabric was not more ruffled than if a swallow 
or two had stroked it. The stars blinked as if 
Stromboli’s torch had come up too close to the 
night’s forehead. The engines rumbled sleepily. 

Judy was standing in the stern looking down 
at the filigree of ivory lace that momently was 
ravelled and unravelled in the boat’s wake. She 
felt a finger on her shoulder and heard a whisper 
in her ear. “ Come this way, Judy. I have some- 
thing to tell you.” 

“ Certainly, daddy.” She wondered why, if 
he had something to tell her, he did not tell her 
there and then. She wondered why he needed to 
bend and whisper so melodramatically in her ear. 
She walked after him. He walked with exagger- 
ated softness. He turned and put his finger to his 
lips and said “ Hush ! ” Then he halted against 
the boat-rail at a spot not at all more secluded 
than the one where she had been standing. 

“ Are you sure there’s no one about ? ” he asked, 
and looked round. 



THE PURSUER 


204 

“ I don’t think so. What’s all this about, 
daddy ? ” 

“ Turn round,” he said to her. She turned 
round. “ Don’t look at me as if I’m talking.” 

“ All right,” she said, puzzled. Then she heard 
him chuckle. She realised suddenly he was 
making fun of her. He was parodying the caution 
which had made an agony of their lives for so 
long for both of them. She bit her lip to prevent 
herself breaking into tears. 

He was not in the least aware how his humour 
was affecting her. He continued with his joke. 
He spoke to her without turning his head, and 
with an exaggerated muting of the consonants. 
“ When we get to the end of our journey . . . 
won’t say where . . . wild horses wouldn’t drag 
the name of the place out of me ... we take the 
first train back along this coast. . . . Hello, did you 
hear a footstep ? ” 

“ No, daddy, no.” 

“ You get to another little port . . . find out 
name when we get there . . . from there we go to 
certain group of . . . they’re all surrounded by 
water, anyhow, every one of them, see . . . we’re 
going to have fine old time . . . how’re you feeling, 
Judy, are you all right ? ” 

“ Father,” she said to him quietly. “ Are you 
drunk ? ” 

He whipped round and blazed at her. “ What 



THE PURSUER 


205 

the hell do you mean, am I drunk ? You know I 
never touch a drop ! Oh, you make me sick ! ” 

He turned on his heel and strode away furiously. 

5 

It was very early in the morning when they 
reached Messina, but the idea of resting up for a 
few hours did not seem to occur to him. They 
drove straight from the port to the station, where 
he deposited her with the bags in the waiting- 
room. He was still a little peevish with her, 
for the exaltation of the previous day and night 
was already wearing off. He went off to get 
tickets, and found that the ticket-office would 
not be open till a few minutes before the train left. 
They had some breakfast and kicked their heels 
in the waiting-room for a couple of hours. Then 
at last he asked her to follow him. It was not until 
they got into the train that he let her know the 
name of the station they were making for, and 
even then, with the same cynical exaggeration of 
caution as he had adopted the night before, he 
did not actually utter the name of the place. 
“ Here ! ” he said. “ This is wi^ere we’re going 
to.” She read the name Milazzo on the tickets. 

Something had happened to upset his temper 
considerably. “ It’s a nuisance,” he grumbled. 
“ We arrive twenty minutes too late.” 



THE PURSUER 


206 

“ What for ? ” she asked. She was not aware 
that they were overburdened with engagements. 

“ You’ll sec,” .he said. 

Then he saw how her face fell. His conscience 
pricked him for being so ungracious. “ I’m sorry, 
Judy, I’m sorry.” He leaned forward and patted 
her hand on her knee. “ Forgive me for being a 
crusty old gentleman.” 

Immediately she warmed again towards him, 
as a chilled landscape will smile with all its woods 
and waters when the sun shines out briefly 
between masses of cold cloud. “ That’s all right, 
daddy. I’ve been rather silly myself.” 

“ No,” he said sombrely. “ Not half so silly as 
me. 

“ No, no,” she urged him. “ It’s exactly what 
we both need. To get away. To forget.” 

“ Oh, Tudy, Judy.” His voice was very sad. 
“ If I only could.” 

“ You shall, daddy, you shall. First for hours 
at a time. Then it’ll be days at a time. The days 
will be weeks and months before you know where 
you are.” 

“ I wonder.” I^c looked up at her and smiled 
wanly into her face. 

“ You see, daddy. I’ve been thinking.” She 
stopped and looked into his eyes. “ Shall I go 
on I 

There was no one but themselves in their 



THE PURSUER 


207 

carriage. He looked round again to make sure 
that somehow someone else had not ensconced 
himself there, 

“ What did you want to say ? ” he quivered 
timidly. 

“ Daddy, daddy,” she begged him. She seized 
his wrists and pressed them firmly. “ I love you. 
Remember that. Please don’t be so frightened,” 

He realised she censured him for the timidity 
of his voice. “ What did you want to say ? ” he 
asked again. His voice was firmer this time. 

“Just one thing. Then I won’t say any more. 
You see ” 

“ Yes ? ” 

“ I can only get things said now and again, 
when a moment comes. Then the moment goes. 
I mustn’t say any more. You won’t let me.” 

“ There’s nothing you can say.” 

“ Oh, yes. There’s one thing. Nothing was your 
fault. Nothing, nothing, nothing. If I didn’t 
honestly believe that, I couldn’t have kept going. 
And I don’t think you could, either.” 

“ The wounded animal keeps going till it finds 
a hole somewhere and creeps into it and dies.” 

“ But you’re not going to die ! ” she cried 
fiercely, shaking him by the shoulders. “ You’re 
not going to die ! We’re going to have a grand 
time ! ” 

“ Yes,” he sighed. “ I think we might be quite 



2o8 


THE PURSUER 


happy in those islands. It is a damn nuisance ! ” 
he broke out, for the mention of the islands 
already put his grievance back into his mind. 

“ What ? ” 

“ We arrive about twenty minutes too late for 
the morning boat ! ” 

“ That’s all right, daddy. We’ll take the boat 
to-morrow. Here we are, all on our own in the 
wide wide world.” She stopped. “ Nobody knows 
you’re going to the islands ? ” 

“ No,” he replied bitterly. “ I wasn’t quite 
such a fool as that. I let slip we were going across 
to Reggio and Brindisi.” 

“ Well then,” she smiled. “ Let’s have a lovely 
day to-day. Let’s get some eggs and bread and 
sardines and walk and bathe. Shall we ? ” 

“ I’d like to have been in time for the boat,” 
he said unhappily. 


They booked rooms for the night at a little inn 
at Milazzo and got the people to put up some food 
for them in a bag. They learned that the coast 
here at Milazzo prolonged itself in a promontory 
that nosed three miles northward towards the 
Lipari Islands. 

“ That’s fine,” said Wace. “ Let’s go that way. 
We can bathe if we feel like it. Anyhow we can 
look at the islands.” 



THE PURSUER 


209 

They thrust their way through a tangle of 
myrtle and arbutus down the hill-slope to the sea, 
a minute or two’s walk from the lighthouse at the 
top of the promontory. “ Go and have a bathe, 
Judy,” he bade her. “ I’m quite happy.” 

And, indeed, as he sat there leaning against a 
rock gilded with lichen, his elbows on his knees 
and his chin cupped in his hands, he looked like a 
pilgrim who sees the sanctuary he has been 
making for only a day’s distance away, and smiles 
a little, and sighs. For now he embraces the whole 
of it as a single spiritual entity. To-morrow he 
will arrive. He will be able to put out his hands 
and feel the walls. He will need to think of it in 
terms of food and drink. It will create its complex 
of minor problems. But now — it is exempt from 
problems now. 

“ I’m going in, daddy,” she called out from 
behind a rock. “ You’d best come in too, won’t 
you ? ” 

He did not reply. He had fallen asleep, his 
forehead resting on his knees. 


The mood of gaiety returned to him the 
moment he set foot on the tiny steamer next 
morning which was to take them out to the island 
of Lipari. 

“ I think," he exclaimed, " I shouldn’t ever 
Op 



210 THE PURSUER 

have been a business-man. I should have been 
a sailor.” 

“ Why not ? ” she said. “ If we’re not spent 
up, we’ll buy a boat. You’ll be the captain 
and I’ll be the crew.” 

“ We’ll do hornpipes ! ” he promised her. 
“ Look ! Do you see Stromboli there ? I like 
Stromboli ! The hole at the top there is bigger 
than any of those wretched little scratches in 
Pantellaria ! ” An odd expression came into his 
eyes, a certain malignancy screwed up the 
corners of his mouth. “ You’re bound to get a 
much better view of Hell from the top of Strom- 
boli ! ” he announced. 

She shivered. It was as if a tiny gust of cold 
wind came up from the north and flicked her 
face. Then the gust went out like a candle- 
flame. He seized her by the arm. “ Look at the 
colour of this water ! ” he bade her. “ If you 
put your hand in it, it would come out Prussian 
blue ! ” 

“ What lovely people ! ” he exclaimed bene- 
volently, as they drew up against the landing- 
stage. “ All of them ! All of them ! ” He opened 
his arms, as if he would embrace them, the 
freckled fisher-boys, the almond-eyed broad- 
browed girls, the housewives with their aprons, 
the waterside officials, here at the end of the 
world, who were to give him peace at last in 



THE PURSUER 


2II 


the warm shadow of their churches and the 
coolness of their rock-hung waters. 

“ I wonder,” his daughter mused, “ how long 
he’ll find them lovely. It’s a strange place and 
a far place. But I wonder if it’s far enough.” 


They found rooms in the house of a stout 
vague lady named Donna Francesca, of whom 
it was vaguely thought by herself and her 
daughters that her father had been a prince 
from Mantua. The daughters and the mother 
moved about the rooms of their house with a 
dim swishing of their skirts and a sleepy whisper 
of curtains pulled open and pulled to again. 
There was a dove-cote in the courtyard behind 
the house whence a sleepy murmur came, hardly 
more drowsy than the voices of the ladies so 
augustly descended. The front windows looked 
out upon the garth of the cathedral which was 
so crowded with golden flowers that, seen 
obliquely, it looked like a sheet of beaten metal ; 
until, looking more closely, you saw the million 
flower-heads incline to the probing of the bees. 
The million-fold buzzing became a quality of 
the very air, till a torpor numbed the brain as 
insidiously as a distilled opiate. 

This, at least, was the effect of Lipari on 
Harry Wace. To Judy the place was sometimes 



212 THE PURSUER 

almost painfully exciting. She saw and almost 
heard the great lateral puffs of smoke hissing out 
of the horizontal rifts of Vulcano over the water, 
under which the naked deposits of sulphur 
glared balefully. Closer at hand, on Lipari 
itself, sulphur flowered riotously in a broom 
more furious than any she had set eyes on. 
The monstrous-leaved fig-trees gesticulated 
fiercely against the smoking summits of the 
volcanoes. 

Her nerves became unsteadier from day to day, 
while the torpor of the doves and bees seemed 
to possess him more and more completely. 
His movements were circumscribed within an 
area of half a mile or less — with the harbour 
and the cathedral hill at its frontiers. He had 
promised Judy more than once they would go 
out on an excursion to one of the other islands, 
Filicuri or Alicuri or above all, Stromboli, which 
had so vividly provoked his imagination when 
he first steamed into these waters. But somehow 
the desire went from him. He let the days slip 
by like pebbles released one by one softly into 
a blue pool. There were times when Judy felt 
like banging her head against a rock with the 
gnawing tedium of it. She had to stuff her hand- 
kerchief into her mouth to prevent herself crying 
aloud. She was tired of the ineffable blue of sea 
and sky. She yearned for the soapy scud of the 



THE PURSUER 


213 

tide flooding the grey reaches of the Thames 
estuary. She ached to go out bare-headed into 
Doomington rain, sour with the impurities it 
combed out of the charged atmosphere. At these 
times, she set herself to a determined effort 
of the imagination. She recalled the hunted, 
haunted creature her father had been, fleeing 
with staring eyes from his pursuer, down in- 
terminable streets and vast savannahs of desert. 
She looked at him now, where he lay motionless 
as a lizard on the warm rock. Or they might be 
out with Rosario in his rowing-boat. He would 
get tired of dabbling his hand in the water, 
and would dislodge Rosario from the thwart, 
and take the oars in hand. He would screw his 
head round towards her, with a grin of pride 
in his accomplishment, for he had never been 
any sort of an oarsman before. So, as she contem- 
plated and compared these aspects of him, her 
nostalgia would be attenuated. She sighed deeply, 
and if he heard it, he imagined it was a sigh of 
well-being. “ Happy, Judy ? ” he asked her. 
“ Tremendously,” she replied, smiling. “ That’s 
fine, Judy. That’s fine. We were right, weren’t 
we ? It’s a grand place, eh, the only place in 
the world.” 

The thought of the future now and again 
knocked on the door of her mind. But there was 
nothing to do at all but to refuse it admission. 



THE PURSUER 


214 

The weeks, the months, would achieve them- 
selves, the years, perhaps. The formulation of 
the word filled her with desolation. She had 
vowed herself to him, to fulfil the debt another 
had contracted. If it was to be years, well and 
good — let it be years. 

But it would not be. How long would it take 
before the inquirer in Tunis nosed out the trail 
again ? Had he drawn blank in Alexandria ? 
Had he drawn blank in Reggio ? How long would 
it be before he sniffed the trail again in Milazzo ? 

How long ? She was a raving fool ! The fellow 
had merely come to sell them something. The 
people at the hotel provided the carpet touts, 
the coffee-set touts, the rug and perfume touts, 
with the names of the foreigners staying with 
them. They got a rake-off out of the proceeds. 
Why, her father himself had forgotten the 
episode completely. But completely. He never 
talked of it. The shadow of it never came into 
his eyes. 

The weeks went by and the nostalgia recurred 
less frequently. The hot sun, the aromatic 
odours, the perpetual dazzle of the sea, were 
coursing along her veins like some injected 
anodyne. If there had once been a Judy Wace, 
there was less and less of Judy Wace now, as 
the days, pearly with white heat, heaped them- 
selves above her prostrate body like the fall of 



THE PURSUER 


215 

petals from an orchard where the blossom was 
renewed as soon and as silently as it had expended 
itself. 

She, too, at first, had gone down with him 
every morning at ten o’clock to see the steamer 
come in from Milazzo. It was, after all, the 
great event of the day. And what else was there 
to do but see the steamer come in from Milazzo ? 
Excepting on those gala days when in addition 
there was a steamer from Messina en route for 
Naples, and the same steamer, half a week 
later, from Naples en route for Messina. They 
were his pinnaces, he told her playfully, for he 
had become ^Eolus, lord of these islands, and 
these craft sped to do his bidding. Once or 
twice he succeeded in provoking himself out of 
his indolence, and he remembered his earlier 
curiosity regarding these islands. He declared 
that one day or the day after he would charter 
one of these steamers, for they were all his own, 
so that they might undertake a tour of investi- 
gation. From the smaller and nearer islands 
they would return the same afternoon. But they 
would stay half a week in Stromboli, he would 
not have the Stromboli boat upset its routine 
for his convenience. Or why not stay on in 
Stromboli for a week or two weeks ? The place 
evidently intrigued him. 

After some time he dropped the idea, if he 



THE PURSUER 


2i6 

had ever seriously maintained it, and Judy did 
not wholly regret it. Their lodgings in the house 
of Donna Francesca in Lipari were far from 
luxurious ; but they were clean and quiet. She 
gathered that their quarters would be primitive 
indeed in Stromboli. She was managing gradually 
to adapt herself to this hypnotic routine ; she 
was relieved to think she would not need to 
dislocate it until the time came at length to 
leave the island. 

She was happy to think that the arrival of the 
steamer could be a matter of such unfailing 
interest to him, day by day, long after it had 
ceased to excite her. But now and again she 
found the steamer a bit of a tyrant. She would 
have liked to set off now and again quite early in 
the morning, before it became too hot, to the 
Monte Sant’ Angelo, where the island heaved 
itself up against the sky through banks and bars 
of thyme and broom and rock-rose and tree- 
heath. There, from under the shade of a wild 
fig-tree the mountain would extend her dreaming 
limbs till her toes dabbled in the creamy edge 
of the sea. She would thrust out her arms across 
the blue vacancy till in the palms of one hand and 
the other she balanced Filicuri and Stromboli. But 
her father did not like her to go until after the 
steamer had come in and disembarked its slender 
complement of passengers. And then it would be 



THE PURSUER 


217 

almost time for lunch. And perhaps in the after- 
noon another steamer might be due. One way 
and another, her father did not move far from 
the harbour-side. 

One day it happened he overslept. She feared 
he had had a bad night, and decided not to 
awaken him. He woke up about five minutes 
before the morning steamer was due, as if his 
subconscious mind would not allow the signal 
moment to go by. 

“Judy,” he called out to her. “Are you 
there ? ” 

“ Yes, daddy.” 

“ My watch says it’s five minutes to ten. It’s 
not, is it ? ” 

“ I think it is,” she called out. “ Didn’t you 
sleep well, daddy ? ” 

He flung open the door of his room. He had 
already struggled into his shirt and trousers. 
“ Why the devil didn’t you waken me ? ” he 
shouted. “ Get out of my way ! ” His face was 
livid with fury. Without tie or coat he hurled him- 
self out of the room and out of the house. It was 
then she realised for the first time that the morn- 
ing excursion to the steamer was not the genial 
little hobby she had imagined it to be. It seemed 
to her likely that to him, too, that same realisa- 
tion had come for the first time. 

A couple of hours later, he went up to the little 



THE PURSUER 


2i8 

restaurant where they took their lunch, looking 
rather crestfallen. He had been back to Donna 
Francesca’s for his tie and coat. He had found 
some roses somewhere. 

“ Here you are, Judy,” he said. “ I thought 
these would be nice on the table.” 

She smiled. She bent forward and made a 
better job of his tie. “ That’s better,” she said. 
He smiled back awkwardly. 


Then one night it happened that he slipped on 
Donna Francesca’s doorstep and sprained his 
ankle. The limb swelled monstrously, the pain of 
it racked him all night long. Judy was with him 
most of the night applying compresses. She gave 
him as much aspirin as she dared, but he did not 
have a wink of sleep. Next morning at nine-thirty 
he asked her to reach him his clothes, and help 
him on with them. 

“ What on earth for ? ” she asked. 

“ You know perfectly well ! ” he snapped. 

“ But you can’t go, daddy ! It’s ridiculous ! ” 

“ Oh can’t I ? ” He showed his teeth. “ You’ll 
just see if I can’t ! Ask Donna Francesca for her 
stick. I’ve got my own stick, too ! ” 

She tried hard to restrain him, but he would 
not be moved. “ All right ! ” she conceded at 
length, grimly. She knew that as soon as he had 



THE PURSUER 


219 

gone two steps, he would realise he could no more 
hobble down to the harbour than fly there. The 
sweat poured down his cheeks in thick runnels. 
The veins stood out like coarse cord on his fore- 
head. “ No ! ” he gasped. “ No ! Help me back 
to bed again, Judy ! ” 

She got him back to his bed and made as if to 
help him out of his clothes. “ Stop a minute ! ” he 
bade her. “You could get Salvatore and Cicciu 
to carry me down. They could make a chair out 
of their hands.” 

She looked at him. “ Don’t you see what ideas 
it will put into everybody’s head ? No ! It can’t 
be done ! ” 

He turned his head to the wall. “ All right ! ” 
he brought out between his teeth. He refused to 
utter a word in reply to anything she said for a 
good many minutes. Then at last he spoke again. 
“ Go down to the harbour,” he requested, “ and 
see who lands from the boat. Make quite sure 
nobody slips by you — nobody.” 

“ Yes, daddy,” she assured him. “ You ean rely 
on me.” She walked down to the harbour swiftly 
and reached the waterside in time for the first 
boatload of disembarking passengers. She seruti- 
nised them as carefully as she had promised she 
would, though she did not know what purpose 
she could serve by her scrutiny, and which of its 
objects was more open to suspicion than the one 



220 


THE PURSUER 


that preceded or followed it. “ But it’s all over,” 
she said to herself. “ It’s all over. Where can we 
go to now ? There’s nothing but the sea itself, the 
bottom of the sea. Would we be safe even there ? 
I’m tired. I’d like to try it, anyhow.” 

She went back to her father brightly. “ If there 
was anybody in that ship who’d make you lose a 
minute’s sleep,” she told him, twinkling, “ I’d eat 
my hat ... if I had a hat worth eating.” 

“ They didn’t notice that you were on the 
look-out ? ” he asked anxiously. 

“ No, I was awfully casual. I just sat dangling 
my legs over the water. Nobody took the least 
interest in me.” 

“ I want you to go down this afternoon, too. 
The Messina boat comes in to-day.” 

“ Of course I will. I’ll keep a look-out till 
you’re better.” 

“ Damn this ankle ! ” he swore. “ Damn this 
blasted ankle ! ” 

It took him well over a week before he could 
hobble down to the harbour-side again. But she 
could see from the furtive way he looked left and 
right that the island had lost its innocence for 
him. He saw an unfamiliar face in the cafe and 
at once it produced in him an agony of appre- 
hension. He was hardly reassured when he heard 
the man break out into a torrent of broad Lipari. 
He could not eat his lunch at the restaurant 



THE PURSUER 


221 


because a stranger spoke to him, though the 
stranger was manifestly the most harmless little 
German archaeologist in the world, complete 
with sketching-block and camera and measuring 
instruments. It was not enough for him to go 
down to the harbour-side when the steamers 
came in. He would climb up to the citadel and 
sit down in the shadow of the wall and look out 
to sea for hours, as if he feared some sail might 
come up over the horizon that boded no good to 
him. 

His greatest distress, however, came from the 
fact that he feared Judy’s perspicacity was not 
to be trusted. She had taken his place at the 
harbour-side for more than a week. Was it not 
possible that someone had landed whom she had 
not noticed ? Her attention had wandered, 
perhaps, or she had not been acute enough to 
spot him. The pursuer was on the island some- 
where now, in some peasant’s or fisherman’s 
cottage or over in the village of Canneto where 
they handled the pumice-stone. He was biding his 
moment, for he had time enough to play with. 
It was not easy in Lipari to run away on the spur 
of the moment. The pursuer was enjoying the 
procrastination. From some unsuspected coign of 
vantage he, too, was watching the steamer, but 
he was watching to see whom it carried away, 
not whom it brought. He was watching to see 



222 THE PURjSUER 

whether it carried a grey-haired man away, an 
Englishman, and the young woman he had with 
him. It would carry away on its next voyage 
one more passenger who had been thought 
to be a commercial traveller, a wandering 
scholar, an engineer. But he was none of these 
things. 

He was paralysed by the dilemma that faced 
him. He dared not stay on the island. He dared 
not leave. Whichever he did, he was watched, 
he was palpable. At length Judy herself put a 
cunning idea into his head. 

The Lipari dentist was an uncouth amateur 
who came over from Milazzo once a week. He 
took a room for the day and put up his equipment 
between a couple of brass bedsteads. Wace had 
had occasion to visit the dentist some weeks ago, 
and though he himself had not been in a fit state 
to be so sensitive, Judy had sworn that if ever a 
dentist became necessary for either of them, she 
was absolutely determined that they would go 
over to the mainland for him. She had been 
horrified by the casual way in which he had 
gone on from mouth to mouth with the same 
instruments, without worrying about sterilising 
them, or even washing them. The little table 
between the bedsteads looked like a butcher’s 
slab. 

One night Wace noticed that Judy put the tips 



THE PURSUER 223 

of her fingers a little delicately up against her 
cheek. 

“ Hello,” he asked, “ anything wrong ? ” 

“ No, not much. A bit of a hole, I suppose. I’ll 
have to get it attended to.” 

“ Let me see. What day’s to-morrow ? Wednes- 
day. The dentist will be here the day after to- 
morrow.” 

“ No, thank you,” she said firmly. “ I’d rather 
get one of the fishermen to yank it out with a 
stone and a bit of fishing-tackle.” 

“ One of the fishermen, eh ? ” he asked. “ Oh, 
one of the fishermen ! ” His idea had already 
taken possession of him. “ Well, go to sleep now, 
Judy. Take an aspirin for to-day.” 

She went to sleep. The pain wasn’t serious. It 
passed off and she was soon sleeping soundly. 
She was awakened by her father, tugging at her 
shoulder and whispering into her ear. 

“Judy, get up ! Get up ! ” 

She awoke with a start. “ What is it, daddy, 
what is it ? ” 

“ Salvatore’s down below. Get up and pack 
your things ! I’ve settled with Donna Fran- 
cesca ! ” 

“ Salvatore ? Which Salvatore ? ” 

“ Salvatore with the motor-boat ! ” 

“ What on earth’s Salvatore waiting for ? ” 

“ It’s a calm night ! The sea’s as flat as glass ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


224 

“ What do you want, daddy ? What do you 
want me to do ? ” 

“ You’re suffering agonies from toothache ! 
You can’t wait till the day after to-morrow till the 
dentist comes from Milazzo ! ” 

“ I’m perfectly all right, daddy. Honestly, I 
am ! ” 

He got hold of her by both shoulders and shook 
her fiercely. “You fool ! Don’t you see ? This is 
our chance ! He’s sound asleep somewhere ! 
We’ll steal a march on him ! We can get away 
while the whole island’s asleep ! Will you get up 
now ? ” 

“ I’m very tired, daddy ! ” 

“ Oh, Judy, Judy ! ” He got down on one 
knee beside her bed, and buried his face in the 
counterpane. “ The sea’s worse than the desert, 
Judy ! It’s like a prison-wall ! It smiles and sneers 
at me the whole day long. I hate the sea ! One 
more chance, Judy ! I think now we’ll find a 
place. . . . Judy, try and believe me ! I want to 
get into a train again. And we’ll get away. And 
we’ll find the place. We will, Judy. I promise you 
we will ! ” 

“ Yes, daddy. I’m getting up now ! ” 

“ Oh, you lovely Judy ! ” He threw his arms 
around her. His face was wet with tears. 



THE PURSUER 


225 


6 

Salvatore was informed that the signore and his 
daughter were going to buy themselves some 
things they needed in Palermo and would return 
to Lipari several days later. “ Ebben ! ” said 
Salvatore. He bowed courteously to the Ingrisi, 
accelerated his motor-boat and chugged away 
towards the harbour-mouth. “ Fra pod giorni / ” 
he called out to them. “ In a few days ! ” repeated 
Wace, and turned his back on the boat, on the 
island, on the pursuer who might at that moment 
be stirring and yawning in his bed. 

“ We’re going to Messina, I suppose ? ” said 
Judy. 

“ Unless he’d think we’d gone to Messina 
because we said we were going to Palermo,” he 
speculated. 

She shrugged her shoulders. “ There’s no end 
to that.” 

“ Yes,” he admitted. “ Which then ? Which 
way ? ” He stood irresolute, as if the decision 
must be reached there, at that moment, at the 
harbour-side. 

She put her bag down and sat on it. “ You sit 
down, too, daddy. We can get a cab when we 
want to. Nobody’s listening, daddy. Sit down, 
let’s have it out.” 

Pp 



THE PURSUER 


226 

“ What is it, Judy ? ’* he quivered anxiously. 
“ You don’t mind leaving Lipari, do you ? ” 

“ No,” she said. “ It was getting on my 
nerves.” 

“ Well, then.” 

“ We’ve got to have it out.” 

“ What do you mean ? What do you want me to 
do?” 

“ We must go somewhere and stay somewhere. 
Otherwise I’ll die.” 

“What are you saying, Judy? You look so 
strange. Are you ill ? ” 

“ I know what I’m saying. I’ll die. We must 
rest somewhere. If we don’t, you’ll be alone. 
It won’t be my fault.” 

“ Where ? ” He paused. It was as if he asked 
himself the question with an intensity he had not 
brought to it before. Slowly, in a voice of utter 
mournfulness, he answered the question. “ There 
isn’t anywhere.” 

She looked into her spirit to see if there was any 
reserve of strength she might draw on. It was 
dark and empty as a cupboard, where musty 
cobwebs hang in the corners like pockets. She 
had no word to say. 

He opened his lips and spoke again. The voice 
was so toneless, so colourless, he sounded almost 
like a machine speaking. “ If I were a man, 
Judy, I’d send you on from here. You’d find 



THE PURSUER 


227 

your way back into the world you came from. 
And to-night, when these people had gone to bed, 
I’d walk to the edge of the jetty, and one step 
further. If I were a man, Judy . . .” 

She rose, stung by a sense of his extreme un- 
kindness. “ It’s not for this I’ve come with you, 
all these months, all this way.” Tears stood in her 
eyes. “ Are you coming ? ” 

He rose wearily. “ I’m coming, Judy.” He 
followed her like a dog. There was a cab waiting. 
“ To the station ! ” she ordered. He got up into 
the cab after her. 

“ And then ? ” he whispered fearfully. 

Her cheeks flushed furiously. “ How should I 
know ? How the devil should I know ? ” 

They arrived at the station. A porter came up 
and took the bags down from the place behind 
the driver. They descended, then she turned 
away, hiding her face from him. He looked at 
her as at a stranger. In his utter wretchedness, 
in the wretchedness of her bent shoulders and 
bowed head, he was no longer father, she was no 
longer daughter. She was a shabby woman, with 
shoes worn down at the heels, and a hat like a 
limp bundle of straw. He bent towards her as a 
man might in a caprice bend to a strange woman 
in the street, where nature seems too fine for the 
shoddy it is dressed in. 

“ We’ll go to a big city,” he said. “ You ought 



THE PURSUER 


228 

to have some clothes.” He booked for Naples as 
if it were a stage on some carefully contrived 
journey. He bought clothes for himself, too, as 
well as for her, in Naples, and destroyed every 
stitch of the clothing they had worn till then. It 
was as if he sought to create two new creatures 
from crown to heel. He allowed his beard to 
grow, too, and took to wearing a pair of dark 
spectacles. But he could not change the contrac- 
tion and dilation of the valves of his heart, nor 
expunge from his ears the rhythmic tread of the 
feet that were as audible on the great smooth 
promenade as in the narrow alleys where the tall 
houses leaned towards each other so closely that 
they shut out the blue day. 

It was in Naples, in the middle of the second 
week after their arrival, that the episode occurred 
which gave its final form and aspect to the drama 
of Harry Wace. They were staying in a hotel 
under the Castel Sant’ Elmo. The house was 
scrupulously clean and the streets that flanked it 
were less noisy than most streets in Naples. But 
it was tall and narrow and there was no lift. 
Their rooms were up on the fourth floor, and it 
happened one day that Wace, more preoccupied 
than usual, went up beyond the fourth floor, to 
the fifth floor, and even to the sixth, before it had 
occurred to him he had gone high enough. He 
went to the end of the passage and opened the 



THE PURSUER 


229 

door on the right-hand side, under the impression 
he was entering his own room. His eyes were still 
misted over with his thoughts and he advanced 
several paces into the room, before he realised 
that he was not alone. He became aware that 
there was a woman in the bed, an old woman. 
But before he was aware that she was a woman 
or old, he was aware of the happiness that 
radiated from her and filled the little room from 
the door-jamb to the cornice. Her eyes were 
mild and peaceful, her cheeks had the warm 
flush of an apple, her hands rested lightly on the 
coverlet, a rosary draped around one wrist. On 
the wall above her bed were stuck a number of 
holy cards with paper lace round their edges. 
There was a framed oleograph of the Virgin and 
Child on the wall to the left of the window that 
faced her, and filled her eyes with sky and sea. 

“ I — I — beg your pardon,” he stammered. 
“ I thought it was my room.” 

She turned her head towards him as if she were 
aware of him for the first time when he spoke. 

“ Fa niente” she said. “ It matters nothing.” 
She looked at him intensely for several seconds. 
“ It is a long time since I have seen a strange 
face.” 

She spoke with the accent of a peasant woman, 
but the quality of her voice was fine and gentle. 
She wore a small cape of coloured wools round 



THE PURSUER 


230 

her shoulders, knitted presumably by herself. 
There were balls of wool and needles on a table 
beside her. 

“ I — I’m so sorry,” he said again. He walked 
towards the door, then turned towards her again. 
He had had no curiosity about any human 
being for a long time, not even about his own 
daughter. He found it impossible to restrain the 
questions that came to his lips now, regarding 
a quiet old woman whose room he had blundered 
into, in an obscure hotel in Naples. “ Who are 
you, signora ? Are you unwell ? You are happy, 
why are you so happy ? ” 

“ Am I unwell ? ” She pointed to her limbs 
which seemed so slight they hardly made a 
curve in the bedclothes. “ I have not moved 
from this bed for twenty years. But I am well 
enough. I am very happy, signore. Who am I ? 
I have almost forgotten that. The world has 
forgotten. My son remembers. That is enough 
for me.” 

“Your son?” 

“ He is the padrone of this hotel. He brings me 
my food and drink. What more do I need ? 
The rest is from God.” 

“You have not moved out of this bed for 
twenty years ? ” 

“ It seems like a day.” The old woman smiled. 
Her fingers played with the beads of her rosary. 



THE PURSUER 


231 


“ The world has forgotten you ? ” 

“ I am happy.” 

Scalding tears came to his eyes. He could 
not trust himself to speak to her again. He 
turned to the door. “ Good-bye, signora ! ” he 
brought out. 

“ May God be with you ! ” she said. 

7 

He did not speak to Judy for two or three 
days, more than to say good-morning, or would 
she pour out for him. She did not force herself 
upon him, for she sensed that he was not sulky 
or angry. For a time even fear was suspended. 
He forbore from looking round if he heard foot- 
steps following him and did not peer suspiciously 
into a face if it was half-hidden by the brim of 
a hat. Something new had entered his mind, 
an idea on which it had fastened with energy. 
Then at last he spoke to her. 

“Judy,” he said. “ It’s not been bad in Naples. 
You’ve seen that, haven’t you ? ” 

“ Yes,” she said, a little wearily. “ It’s not 
been bad.” She knew well enough it was merely 
a matter of a day or two, or a week or two, 
before Naples was as bad as elsewhere. 

“ You’re right,” he said, as if he saw her 
thoughts written out before him. “It would 



THE PURSUER 


232 

only be a matter of a day or two, a week or 
two. I’ve a plan to put before you. I’m going to 
disappear. I’m going to disappear from the 
world completely.” 

“ What ? ” she cried out angrily. “ Is that all 
you’ve got to tell me ? Is it fair to bring me in 
on it ? What do you want me to do ? ” 

“ No, Judy, you don’t understand me. I’m 
not going to do away with myself. It may be 
that I’m too much of a coward for that. But 
it’s not only that. Oh no. After all you’ve been 
through, it wouldn’t be fair to you, for one 
thing.” She smiled bitterly. “ Don’t smile like 
that,” he requested her. “ If I thought you 
wanted me to go. I’d go.” She said nothing. 
His voice and demeanour were so solemn it was 
impossible to attack him with tears or anger. 
“ I know you’re ready to carry on,” he continued, 
“ and so am I. I’ve said it wouldn’t be fair to 
you, if I gave up, and I mean it. . . . And it 
wouldn’t be fair to him.” He stopped. His eyes 
were full of grey speculation. 

“ Him ? ” she asked. “ Who on earth do you 
mean ? ” 

“ Nothing. Nobody.” 

“ What are you talking about, daddy ? ” 

“ I’m talking about my plan. If I can still 
have your help, it can be carried out.” 

“ I’ve not failed till now.” 



THE PURSUER 


233 

“ We must go to some great city, I haven’t 
thought which. We must enter it by different 
times and at different places. You will have 
some sort of home there, a place for yourself 
alone. Do you understand ? It must be a place 
for yourself alone. It should be high up, where 
there’ll be air and sunlight. It should not be 
overlooked.” 

“ What are you driving at ? ” 

“ One day I shall come to see you ; not as 
myself, of course. Others should be coming at 
the same time, shortly after. It wouldn’t be 
impossible to work out. We would be tradesmen, 
messengers. The others would go. I would stay — 
if you’d let me. I’d never go out again.” 

“ Daddy,” she whispered. “ You might as 
well be dead.” 

“Judy, it would be far better to be dead than 
to go on like this, hounded from shadow to 
shadow.” 

“ How could you bear it, daddy ? ” 

“ Oh, Judy, if you’d let me, I could be so 
happy. I’d be at peace. And you, too, Judy. 
You’d know what it was to have a roof over 
your head again, and your own chairs and 
tables and books to come back to. There’s 
nothing else in the world, Judy, nothing else at 
all.” 

“ You’d never go out again ? ” she repeated 



THE PURSUER 


234 

incredulously. Her scalp tightened with the 
horror of the thought. 

“ To what ? To the following feet ? To the 
shadow in the doorway ? Will you, Judy, will 
you ? ” 

Her head fell on to her bosom. It seemed for 
several minutes that she was asleep. Then she 
spoke, without lifting her head. 

“ We’ll try it, daddy. Of course we’ll try it.” 



CHAPTER XV 


I 

He HAD RECEIVED somc comfort and in- 
spiration somewhere, she did not know how or 
where. He made plans with a resolution he had 
not displayed since the morning of their escape 
from London. He took the initiative entirely 
into his hands. He seemed to be acting in the 
quite conscious realisation that he was making 
a final bid for the resolution of his dreadful 
problem. He might now at length succeed, and 
win for himself a certain measure of serenity ; 
or he might fail, and there would be no trying 
ever again. 

He had strength enough to envisage and 
execute a plan, or a series of plans, in which 
he was deprived of his daughter’s support over 
long days of travelling and far stretches of 
country. Once or twice the ordeal was almost 
too much for him, and she picked him up again 
at the agreed station or hotel on the very point 
of collapse. But he won through. They reached 
their goal from different points and at different 
times. They met and proceeded to bring their 



THE PURSUER 


236 

programme to its delicate and dour finale. He 
booked a passage on a steamer that went by 
Marseilles to Barcelona, but from Marseilles 
he returned to Genoa where he joined up 
with Judy again, who had gone north by 
train. They travelled together as far as Milan, 
though he insisted that they should travel in 
different compartments. Then once more they 
separated. He made for Germany by way of 
Strassburg, she by way of Innsbruck and 
Munich. So at last they circled round upon 
Berlin. 

For it was to be in Berlin, he had decided, 
that he would seek the constricted theatre of 
his experiment. It was necessary that it should 
be in one of the major European cities, where 
he might disappear soundlessly among its millions 
like a stone in a vast lake. Rome and Vienna 
were not large enough. They were not excited 
enough, he felt, about their own business, their 
spreading out into new suburbs, the provision 
for themselves of their food and the traffic 
to convey it. There was something of the 
large village, or the collection of large villages 
about them. He had a fear that they would 
not be able to suppress an interest in Judy’s 
menage ; who was this foreign girl living quite 
alone, as they were to think, in a hive of 
strangers ? 



THE PURSUER 


237 

Paris was large enough and sufficiently in- 
different to the stranger who foisted himself 
upon her. But Paris was too near the city he 
had fled from, and it was by the Paris route 
he had fled. No, Berlin was the place. There 
was no other place for him than Berlin in all 
the Old World, and he did not contemplate 
the New. He shied away instinctively from the 
thought of a long sea voyage, on which he might 
find company so hideously inescapable. The 
logic of the situation inevitably drove him upon 
Berlin. It was his fatal error not to realise that 
if he was to be driven by logic, not he alone 
would be so driven. At least the thought did 
not present itself to him for several months. 


2 

They put up at different hotels in Berlin and 
met in the evenings at a sequence of prearranged 
cafes. After a search that lasted several weeks, 
Judy at last found the place she had been looking 
for. She took an apartment in a high block of 
flats some little distance north of the Lehrter 
Bahnhof. The flats looked west over a small 
municipal park. Southward was the dark Spree, 
northward were the pine-tree tops of the Jung- 
fernheide. In between, a network of streets and 
roofs made a glistening design in sun and rain. 



THE PURSUER 


238 

But it was the municipal park that most delighted 
Wace when she brought the news to him. He 
rubbed his hands with glee. “ That’s grand ! ” 
he exclaimed. “ It means that nothing can be 
built to overlook us ! It means we’re free, Judy, 
we’re free ! ” He very nearly hugged her in his 
excitement. The other occupants of the cafe 
thought the pair were taking things a little quickly. 
The Herr Auslander had only picked up the 
wench five or ten minutes ago. 

Judy took the flat in her own name and for 
one person. It was unfurnished and she set to 
work to get some things together. She had two 
divans brought in, not one, and they were 
brought in on different days. But if anyone had 
noticed it, which seemed unlikely enough in the 
first place, it could hardly be a matter for com- 
ment that the young woman might want to put 
up a friend when she felt like it. She got her bed- 
room to rights first, so that there was a room to 
keep locked if any porter had something to bring 
or any workman any work to do elsewhere in the 
flat. A few days later she finished the furnishing 
in a sudden spate of activity. At one time there 
were four or five men from as many different 
establishments in the flat within the same hour, 
depositing kitchen material, a small table or two, 
a picture or two and certain other objects which 
she had overlooked till the last moment. There 



THE PURSUER 


239 

were in point of fact five men, not four, who came 
up to her flat by the service staircase ; but there 
were only four who left, if careful count had been 
taken. The fifth wore an apron and a blue-peaked 
porter’s cap like the others, but when he came he 
went further than they did. He had something to 
do or deliver in the young woman’s bedroom. 
She opened the door and turned the lock on him. 
He did not emerge till that evening when no 
more goods or messengers were expected. He 
stepped across the small lobby that separated her 
bedroom from the living-room of the flat. The 
place was flooded with westering sunshine. The 
oblong of window consisted of nothing but light 
and cloud. A bird’s wing darted across its 
diagonal. A tray was laid out on a table she had 
wheeled in on castors from the kitchen. 

“ Well, daddy,” she said, and smiled at him. 
“ Are you ready for a meal ? ” 

He bent down and seized her two hands and 
kissed them. “Judy ! Judy ! ” he whispered. He 
could say no more. 

“ Don’t be silly, daddy ! ” she said. “ Come on ! 
Your eggs will get cold ! ” 


3 

The months that now followed were happier 
than any he had known since his brief, doomed 



THE PURSUER 


240 

love-affair with Manolita Bienvenida, years ago. 
For a long time it caused no distress in him at all 
that though he had feet, the whole compass of 
their wanderings was reduced to a few yards, 
from room to room and back again to his chair 
at the window. The view at that window was 
spacious, and the variation of cloud and wind, 
sun and moon and star, sufficed during those 
months. There were times when it was clear that 
his eyes saw nothing, placed as he was in his easy 
chair before the parted curtains. It was enough 
for him to be sitting in one place, a place he had 
won to so arduously and slyly, where there was no 
danger that the shadow might fall upon his path 
or the sound of the footsteps come up after him. 
It was enough for him to sit there, to be there, to 
draw breath evenly. 

When at night he turned from the parted 
curtains he realised with amazement how much 
there was for him to do in the sealed and cosy 
room. The old woman lying in the bed in Naples 
had given him an inkling of how contentedly the 
years might go by in a world more desperately 
confined even than his, but she had religion to 
console her, and he had not. Religion had not 
come into his life at all, and the thought had 
often enough occurred to him, hiding in the chill 
shade of churches not only from the sun’s pur- 
suing eye, that God might have been sanctuary 



THE PURSUER 24I 

even from his enemy, if he had not made his 
enemy his god. 

There were books and newspapers to read. 
They had a gramophone and wireless in the flat, 
and Judy played quite prettily on the piano. He 
had loved his small garden once — but not half so 
passionately as the handful of flowers she brought 
in every day or two. They began to collect 
etchings, too, at this time. Judy began to spend 
quite a lot of time rooting about for etchings in 
the second-hand bookshops, which was an occu- 
pation that could not awaken in anybody the 
slightest suspicion. Why should the young woman 
not go rooting about for etchings ? So now and 
again she brought back a beauty she had picked 
up for a mark or two, and they gloated over it for 
hours together. 

She went out and did the shopping herself, 
instead of having it delivered at the flat. He 
became very clever in the kitchen and managed 
to turn out little dishes of great delicacy, out of 
unconsidered trifles that most people would have 
destroyed. It was good fun, in the first place. It 
taxed his ingenuity and took up time nicely. 
Then it was good policy. The quantity of food 
brought into the house was never such that it 
might occur to anybody that the catering was for 
two persons, not for one. And finally, it was 
economical. Living on this scale, they had 

O.p 



THE PURSUER 


242 

money enough to last them as long as they might 
need it. 


4 

It was about half a year after they had taken 
possession of their flat that the evening papers 
began to mention a bitter controversy that was 
raging in the district council administrating the 
area they lived in. The park which the block of 
flats looked over had been bought not very long 
ago from some private corporation and left to 
the people of Berlin in the buyer’s will. When his 
affairs came to be examined, however, it was 
discovered he was in no position to leave behind 
him as a graceful gesture so valuable a property. 
He had left a great many creditors who were 
clamouring for the realisation of all his assets. 
The left-wingers in the council swore that they 
would sooner come out into the streets and fight 
than let the site be handed over to the business- 
men. The right-wingers declared that the sacred 
principles of the rights of property and the pay- 
ment of debts were involved. The controversy 
raged for several months. But at that period in 
the history of Berlin the forces of the right were 
consolidating their positions all along the front, 
in preparation for that smashing attack which was 
not long to be delayed now. The right-wingers 



THE PURSUER 


243 

in the local council won the day. The site was 
handed over to a firm of building prospectors, 
and before a few days had passed, the flower-beds 
and trees were already uprooted and the footings 
for a large block of buildings were being ex- 
cavated. 

It transpired quite soon that the large block of 
buildings was to be a block of flats that would 
stare back at the flats that already stood there, 
window by window. As the storeys of the new 
building climbed up the scaffolding nearer and 
nearer to his own eye-level, Harry Wacc glared 
at the inexorable scaffolders and hodmen like 
those condemned wretches of the Middle Ages 
who saw the brick wall growing course by course, 
which was to incarcerate them in a living tomb. 
But when his daughter said to him : “ Daddy, 
if you’re afraid of being overlooked, we’ll go out 
of here, we’ll find another place ! ” the idea 
seemed dreadful to him. 

“ No ! ” he exclaimed. “ They’ll see me go ! 
I’m all right now. They don’t know I’m here. 
But if I once leave this place. I’m lost for ever ! 
I’ll stay here ! You must get some thicker cur- 
tains than these ! They mustn’t see two figures 
against the curtains when they’re drawn ! We’ll 
have to be careful, that’s all ! I mustn’t sit in 
front of the window any more. It’ll be quite 
easy, Judy ! You mustn’t worry like that ! ” 



THE PURSUER 


244 

She stared at him with eyes full of horror and 
pity. He had deprived himself already of almost 
all his faculties. Now he announced that he was 
going to cut down the circuit of his eyes’ scope 
to a few cubic yards of painted grey wall and 
whitewashed ceiling. She stared at him as if 
he were someone to whom she were not bound by 
spoken and unspoken vows, as if she had never 
set eyes on him in her life before. How could this 
man still find life tolerable when he had hacked 
from it almost all its virtue ? What a gnarled 
branchless sapless rootless hulk was left to him ! 
How was it possible that he should prefer to be 
the blind stump he was than to throw open that 
window and for a few wild whirling seconds at 
least, to be one with air and sun, with bird and 
wind ! 

Her imagination crashed suddenly against the 
steel-like pavement below, and spread in a ruin 
of smashed flesh and bone. The light went out of 
her eyes and every vestige of colour from her 
face. 

“ What’s the matter with you, Judy ? ” he 
asked, alarmed. 

“ Nothing ! ” she whispered. “ Get me a glass 
of water ! I’m faint ! ” 

“ Yes, Judy, yes ! ” He carefully hugged the 
wall of the living-room till he reached the door. 
There were workmen at their level on the 



THE PURSUER 


245 

scaffolding opposite. It would never do if they 
saw there was not one person, but two persons, in 
their flat. Perhaps someone had already given 
them an extra mark or two to keep an eye on the 
flat and report anything that seemed worth while. 

He came back with the glass of water, hugging 
the wall again. “ Here you are, Judy ! I wonder 
what came over you, all of a sudden ! ” 

The respite of delusive content that had been 
granted him was revoked now. Yet he managed 
to adapt himself even to this disastrous attenu- 
ation. The block of flats opposite was occupied 
almost before the paint was dry on the wood- 
work. To Wace each of its windows was a pair 
of eyes which was devoted to the task of discover- 
ing whether the young woman lived alone, or 
another lived with her, whom she concealed. 
Judy tried to convince him that by day it was 
quite impossible for any watcher to penetrate 
through the lace curtain into the comparative 
gloom of the room behind it. She bid him look 
across the street into rooms made by their day- 
time curtains equally impermeable. But he was 
not convinced. He spent a great many more 
hours in his bed now, for the window faced a 
blank wall. When he emerged into the sitting- 
room, he was extremely circumspect in his move- 
ments, above all towards night-f<ill, when the 



THE PURSUER 


246 

time came to switch the light on. He exacted 
an undertaking that she would never press 
the switch till she had called out her intention 
to do so. He would then move off into a corner 
of the room well beyond the possibility of any 
espial. Then she would pull down a blind and 
draw a pair of thick curtains. Then at last she 
was free to let the light flood the room. He, too, 
was free to turn his attention to his books or 
etchings. Or he might switch the wireless on, 
and extend his limbs along the sofa, in a cadav- 
erous imitation of well-being. 

Slowly the last vestiges of colour left his cheeks. 
His face grew dead-white and bulby like a 
plant that is grown in the forepart of a cellar, 
where hardly any light penetrates. His other 
faculties began to lose their edge; hearing and 
taste and sight. But he clung to what was left 
of them and of himself with a tenacity at once 
pathetic and desolate. “ I must keep on and 
do my share,” his daughter vowed. She clenched 
her fists as she lay in her bed and managed 
to keep back her tears. But she knew it was 
getting harder day by day. She felt her strength 
waning from the tips of her fingers and the 
bones of her feet. He, at all events, must not 
notice it. She went about the flat with a 
fixed smile on her face. Sometimes she would 
break into song for his benefit. His ear was 



THE PURSUER 


247 

not fine enough to perceive how toneless the 
voice was, springing from how forlorn a well 
of heartbreak. 



CHAPTER XVI 


X H E trail led to Berlin, to two blocks of flats 
that faced each other, north of the Lehrter 
Bahnhof. The young man was aware that one 
block was several years older than the other. 
He was grateful to the district councillors who 
had put up for him so convenient a point of 
vantage. If he had picked up the trail earlier, 
he would doubtless have been able to rent the 
flat immediately opposite the one occupied by 
the young Englishwoman. But perhaps it was 
better that he hadn’t. He was less conspicuous 
in his vigil a couple of storeys higher and a few 
windows to the left. He was glad that the entrance 
to the new block was not in the same street, 
either. He was anxious she should not isolate 
him from the hundreds who lived in the flats 
and the thousands who moved to and fro across 
the Spree bridges ; not, at all events, till the 
moment was at last ripe for confrontation. 

They had put him off the trail quite cleverly 
at Tunis. But he had not been annoyed when he 
found they had swung him off on so wide a 
detour. There had been several occasions both 



THE PURSUER 


249 

before and after Tunis when he might have come 
up with them, he thought, if he had troubled 
to accelerate the speed of his movements. But 
he did not want to move more quickly. It flat- 
tered him that he moved with the undeliberate 
leisureliness, the unforced insistence, of Death 
itself. When the time came to strike, he would 
strike. But these thousand minor blows he struck 
by not striking too soon — they were sweet and 
deadly. He licked his lips as if there were honey 
smeared on them. 

At Naples again they had tricked him. So far 
as Naples they had certainly travelled together. 
From that point they had as certainly parted, 
if only to join up again, later on the northward 
journey. At length the old man had attained 
Berlin. The daughter’s trail was fresh and clear 
all the way to the block of flats she was now living 
in. What had happened to the father ? Had that 
been the father she had met from time to time 
in one cafe and another ? Had the father ever 
turned up in Berlin at all ? If he had ever turned 
up in Berlin, where was he now ? 

Where was he now ? It had taken time and 
patience and the exact deduction of fact from 
fact to attain this stage of the pursuit. Neither 
luck nor caprice had been on his side. Impelled 
by circumstances at a certain stage of their 
development, what next step would any normal 



THE PURSUER 


250 

human being have taken ? What step would 
he himself have taken ? What step, therefore, 
would Harry Wace have taken ? The vast 
desert and the small island had given him no 
shelter. This city for this reason, that city for 
another reason, could not shelter him. His 
daughter alone, or he with his daughter, had 
chosen Berlin for a hiding-place. Could any 
vast city at all, any more than any tiny village, 
be the hiding-place ? 

The whole history of their relationship in- 
dicated that he was not, he could not be, alone. 
Was he with her then ? Had he entered her flat, 
perhaps while it was being equipped, in the guise 
of some other than himself, covered by the 
porters and messengers who would have goods to 
deliver at that time ? Had he entered her flat 
and never come out again ? 

Was that where he was now ? Absorbed, 
invisible, smiling at the discomfiture of his 
enemy ? 

He took a flat in the opposite building, over- 
looking as closely as possible the flat occupied 
by Judy Wace. The father did not seem to be 
there. If he was, he limited his movements with 
a frantic circumspection. If he was not there, 
the chase would begin again, though no clue 
offered itself anywhere at all. If he were there, 
skulking from wall to wall, cowering in dark 



THE PURSUER 


251 

corners till curtains were drawn and lights lit, 
how contemptible and how comforting a picture 
he made ! 

It was a bit tough on the girl, perhaps. 

Yes, it was a bit tough on the girl. He saw her 
leave the building every morning with a shop- 
ping bag over her arm. She had as little stuff 
as possible delivered by the tradesmen. The 
creature seemed not merely hardly a woman, 
but hardly human. Her father had made of her 
an extension of the functions by which he scuttled 
from place to place, and of the functions by 
which he now kept himself alive in his funk- 
hole — if he were truly there, behind that blank 
uninforming wall. 

He could almost have brought himself to be 
sorry for the girl, if his hatred for the man did 
not annihilate every other emotion that came 
into its orbit. And if it were not fatuous to 
be sorry for a creature so dessicated into mummy- 
faced automatism. 

Was she alone there ? Was she not alone ? 
That must be found out sooner or later. Sooner 
rather than later. Supposing the man expired 
there, manacled in that prison-cell with fetters 
so much weightier than steel ! That would be 
sad indeed. It must be found out, whatever 
action he himself might then take, or whether, 
for a time, he took no action at all. How to find 



THE PURSUER 


252 

out then ? There was only one way to follow, 
one person to help him. He must go the way 
the girl led. She was not wholly a machine. In 
some moment of utter weakness, when the strain 
was just at the point of breaking her, she would 
betray them both, somehow, somewhere. 


He determined that sooner or later he would 
scrape up an acquaintance with her, though he 
knew it would be difficult. If the father was 
immured in the flat with her, he had most 
certainly given her the most urgent instructions 
that she must on no account whatever allow a 
stranger to enter into conversation with her. But 
the time for that had not yet arrived. He would 
follow her, with the inconspicuousness of which 
he had become a master. He would see where 
she went, what she bought, what she was up to 
when she went out into the town. 

She went shopping. Never by any chance did 
she buy provisions enough to suggest she had 
two people to look after, and one of them a man. 
She poked about a bit among the second-hand 
shops and now and again bought a print or an 
engraving. Sometimes she strolled among the 
cases of a museum for an hour or so, or saw a 
picture through in the afternoon. She was 
always back at home in the evenings. If she was 



THE PURSUER 


253 

delayed for some reason, no light was ever 
switched on till she was there to switch it. When 
an afternoon cinema seemed a little stuffy, she 
would go to an open-air beer-garden and take 
a cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade. 

Her purchases and journeys seemed to take 
him nowhere at all. He began to wonder whether 
the time had not come for him to attempt to 
establish some sort of contact with her. He 
wondered how long he could dog her footsteps 
in this way without making her aware she was 
being followed and studied. It was true he knew 
how to modify his appearance by a variety of 
slight and effortless changes — but it is impossible 
to alter the gait and the set of the shoulders, 
excepting very artificially and for brief periods. 
He was convinced she must have sensed him 
before if her long servitude to her father’s 
obsession had not blunted the edge of all her 
faculties. More and more she walked about in 
a dreamy torpor. If it was true that within those 
few square yards of blind wall and blinded 
window, he kept her to that unspeakable tread- 
mill, he was still more abominable than he had 
held him to be. The young man felt his fingers 
twitch in the extremity of his loathing. 

It was while he was still meditating the best 
way to make her aware of him, that he happened 
to follow her one afternoon into the beer-garden 



THE PURSUER 


254 

at the Zelten, where for the most part soldiers 
and servant-girls go. It was a hot day and she 
seemed extremely tired. She wanted to sit down 
in the shade of a tree and feel a breeze on her 
face if any should be stirring there. She wandered 
about from table to table forlornly, and finally 
found a vacant place in the shade near an open- 
air stall where they were frying the savoury 
sausages of Thiiringen. He placed himself at a 
stall near by and wondered whether here and 
now was not the time to approach her. No, I 
had best not, he decided. The soldiers had not 
come out of the barracks yet, but there was 
already quite a lot of winking from table to 
table between unattached youths and girls. 
(“ A cup of coffee ! ” he heard her order.) It 
would be the last word in clumsiness to make 
her feel she was being picked up like a housemaid. 

A good many minutes elapsed before her 
order was attended to. Although he had the 
opportunity for the first time, and she inspired 
in him a monstrous curiosity, he could not bring 
himself to let his eyes rest too long on her face. 
He was too fiercely sensitive of the man who 
had fathered her for a mist of red fury not to 
generate between his eyes and hers. 

The waiter she had given her order to came 
now. He passed just beside the young man, 
and set down a cup of coffee on a table quite 



THE PURSUER 


255 

close to him. A number of glasses of beer were 
left on his tray and two more cups with a hot 
drink in them. The drink in both was cocoa, 
not coffee — the waiter had obviously put down 
Judy Wace’s coffee at a table where cocoa had 
been ordered. He put down one of the two cups 
of cocoa on a table en route, then went on with 
the other to the Englishwoman’s table. 

“ Hello,” the young man said to himself. 
“ Here’s my chance. I’ll point out to the waiter 
he’s made a mistake, and then ” 

But he realised the idea was foolish as soon 
as it had presented itself. It really was too slender 
a thread to pull at in order to force himself on 
a strange young woman’s acquaintance. Besides, 
the waiter moved quicker than seemed possible on 
such flat feet among such a tangle of tables. 
The second cup of cocoa was already steaming 
on the table in front of Judy Wace. 

For a moment or two she did not seem to 
realise it was there. Its odour might have 
impressed itself on her, but it was extinguished 
in the smells of trodden leaves, cheap powder 
and frying Thiiringer. Then, as if she concluded 
from the fact that the waiter had been and 
gone that he must have set down her coffee 
before her, and without lowering her eyes on 
to the table, she reached her fingers forward to 
find the cup’s handle, found it, then lifted the 



THE PURSUER 


256 

cup to her lips. She could hardly have taken 
more than a sip of the chocolate, but the stuff 
had an immediate and frightening effect on her. 
She went quite green with nausea. She was 
almost sick then and there. 

He looked on dispassionately, with an almost 
academic interest. There was certainly nothing 
wrong with the cocoa itself. The stout lady 
before whom the waiter had set down the other 
cup was drinking it with every mark of appreci- 
ation. It was quite clear that Judy Wace had a 
constitutional intolerance of cocoa, a sort of 
phobia. She left a couple of coins on the table, 
staggered to her feet, and threaded her way out 
of the beer-garden. The young man did not 
follow her. He knew there would be no lack of 
suitable opportunities whenever he chose to 
take them. 


One morning about a week after this episode, 
he noticed her going into the grocer’s store 
where she did her shopping. It occurred to him 
to slip in after her, for he had had a sense from 
the beginning that he might learn something 
from her most worth learning when she was 
engaged in some such matter-of-fact occupation. 
He heard her order one article of food and 
another, such as a young woman living alone 



THE PURSUER 


257 

would naturally order for herself— a pound of 
sugar, a packet of rice, a packet of macaroni. 
She stuffed these things, and some others, away 
into her bag. Then she looked again at her 
little book. Yes, she had forgotten something. 
“ A quarter-kilo of cocoa ! ” she said. 

“ Oh indeed ? ” the young man sang to 
himself. “ A quarter-kilo of cocoa ? For whom, 
little maiden ? Not for yourself, I think ! ” he 
gave a brief order and walked out of the shop. 

“ Well, now we know ! ” he whispered. “ Look 
out, Mr. Wace ! The windows are smashed and 
all the doors are open ! Look out, Mr. Wace ! ” 


Rp 



CHAPTER XVII 


I 

H ESAwJuDY Wage leave the building that 
same day, an hour or so after lunch. There was 
nothing to prevent him going up to the flat she 
and her father occupied and knocking at the door, 
as if he were a canvasser, or had merely mistaken 
that door for another. He played with the idea 
for a few minutes, for he found it difficult not to 
celebrate somehow his delicious discovery. But 
he turned it down at last. It was, of course, certain 
that Wace would not open the door. He would 
be paralysed with fright, which would be agree- 
able in itself. And then ... he might either 
attempt to get away again, which he might 
succeed in doing, or he might not. Or he might 
run over to the window and throw himself out 
into the street, and that was a finale which the 
young man wished to avoid at all costs. It would 
be over far too quickly. 

No, the way to the old man must be by way of 
the daughter. He must somehow get to know the 
girl. There is nothing intrinsically suspicious in 
the desire a young man on his own might have to 
get to know a young girl on her own. 



THE PURSUER 


259 

He was aware, as a matter of fact, that he was 
not the only young man in the neighbourhood 
who had tried to force himself upon her, though 
the others had had other motives. It would 
certainly not be said she was beautiful, though 
there was a certain appeal in her large dark eyes 
and her pallor, too, had a sort of beauty. But she 
was young and a woman. That had been enough 
for them. One or two had been touched by 
her loneliness and mystery. They had made 
their approach with an awkward delicacy that 
might have prevailed on many another young 
woman, alone, in a strange city. But she had 
fled like a startled deer from the least hint of 
approach. 

He realised that he could not take the risk of 
forcing himself upon her in such a way that if he 
failed once, she would recognise him when he 
made the effort again. She would be suspicious of 
such persistence. How then to win through to 
her ? He devised a plan, at length, so sensational 
that it was almost laughable, but he knew it 
would serve. 

She walked quite frequently in the early eve- 
ning along the Kronprinzenufer. It was a curi- 
ously deserted area at all times of the day for a 
promenade so near the centre of the city, but 
even if there happened to be more people about 
than usual when he brought off his coup, it would 



THE PURSUER 


260 

be SO swiftly over, it seemed unlikely there could 
be any hitch. 

And there was none. The two tough young men 
he had employed at a handsome consideration to 
be his accomplices, stood leaning over the 
parapet, looking into the river. He himself was 
stationed in a doorway not far from them on the 
opposite side of the road. They had not been 
waiting long when the young woman appeared. 
They were on the look-out for his signal. He 
wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. They 
turned round casually to the river again. She 
came up along the pavement and as soon as she 
was a yard or two from them they turned and 
fell upon her. One knocked her down, the other 
seized her handbag. In that same moment, the 
young man was on them. He let out right and 
left and knocked both the footpads down. He 
retrieved the handbag, then they were both on 
him again. The melee was short and furious, but 
he kept the handbag. A moment later the toughs 
had taken to their heels. They had disappeared 
down a side street. 

“ Armes Fraiilein ! ” he cried out. “ Have they 
hurt you ? The Schweinehmde ! ” 

No ! ” she said faintly. “ No ! Fm all right ! ” 
She had not had the strength to lift herself up 
from the ground. She was leaning against the 
parapet, her face as white as paper. 



THE PURSUER 


261 

“ At all events, I have it. Here is your bag ! ” 

“ Thank you ! It is most kind of you ! I must go 
now ! ” She tried to struggle to her feet, but could 
not manage it till he put his arms forward to help 
her. 

“It has been a great shock ! Come, Fraiilein, 
that cellar across the street is a Bierhaus ! You 
must have a drink of brandy ! ” 

“ No ! No ! ” she insisted. “ I tell you I must 
go ! ” 

“ I wouldn’t dream of it ! Besides, I need a drop 
myself ! ” 

“ Oh, of course, of course ! How selfish of me ! 
Did they hurt you ? I am so sorry ! ” 

“ It will pass. It is not myself I’m thinking of.” 

“ Please go yourself,” she begged piteously. 
“ I must go home ! ” She tried to tear herself 
from the support of his arm, but the effort was 
too much for her. She collapsed and would have 
fallen again had he not seized her. He took the 
matter into his own hands and carried her across 
the road to the Bierhaus, her feet hardly touching 
the ground. He got her down the cellar-steps and 
set her down in a deep ingle-bench. “ Brandy, 
quick ! ” he ordered. It came. He put a glass to 
her lips. “ There, now ! ” he said. “ Feeling a 
little better ? ” 

“ Yes ! ” she murmured. She did not open her 
eyes. She seemed to have gone into a light sleep. 



THE PURSUER 


262 

He looked at her intently. She was the daughter 
of the creature he hated with a hatred he had not 
believed it possible for one human being to enter- 
tain towards another. He asked himself did he 
hate her, too ; was it possible that, standing so 
close to it, she should be excluded from the fierce 
heat in which the object of his hatred was 
wrapped round ? He realised in the act of asking 
the question that he did not hate her, else he 
would not have formulated it. It seemed that the 
other drew from him every emotion that he was 
capable of experiencing towards every human 
being and concentrated it into one jet of demon 
hatred. 

He scrutinised her dispassionately, her heavy 
lids, her long lashes, the extreme fatigue at the 
corners of her mouth. He had no room in his 
charged heart even to be sorry for a frail creature 
who had laboured so mightily. Her fatigue, her 
loneliness, were all counters to be used in the game 
he set himself to play. It was more than probable 
he would have to go through the pretence of 
loving her. He would do that, too, of course. 
He had no sense of shame or chivalry. 

At last she opened her eyes. He expected her to 
say again she must go at once. But she did not. 
The resistance within her had grown flaccid. Her 
mind felt curiously dim and weak. It was as if her 
limbs had been immersed for hours in warm 



THE PURSUER 


263 

water and an indolence had seeped into the very 
sockets of her bones. She said nothing for some 
time. She looked at him with a fixity that pro- 
duced in him a vague discomfort. 

“ Who are you ? ” she said at length. 

“ I am a student,” he replied. “ I am here in 
Berlin studying the History of Art.” 

“ You are a foreigner, then ? ” 

“ Yes. And you, too, I think ? ” 

“ Yes.” 

“ Will you have another sip of brandy ? ” 

“ No, no, Fm all right now.” 

“ Where are you from, if I may ask ? ” 

For a brief moment her sense of caution awoke 
in her and lifted its head. “ What does he want to 
know for ? Why is it his business ? ” Then she 
remembered his kindness to her. It was so lovely 
to be talking to someone young, only a year or 
two older than herself. He would disappear again 
into the loud emptiness from which he had 
emerged. She had been so lonely, so long. 

Besides, it was pretty clear where she came 
from. Her accent told that. She thought he had 
an English accent, too. “ I’m English,” she said. 
“ And you ? ” 

“ I’m English, too. But we’ve been living in 
Calcutta for a long time.” 

“ Oh yes ? Calcutta ? ” she murmured. Then 
she seemed to drowse off again for some minutes. 



THE PURSUER 


264 

When she opened her eyes again, she reached 
for her bag. “ And now I’ve got to go,” she said. 
He saw she meant it this time. “ I want to say 
again how much I thank you.” She was talking 
English now. 

“ You must let me see you home,” he said. 

“ Oh no. Please no. I can manage.” 

“ I insist . . . Miss ... I don’t even know your 
name.” 

“ Smith,” she told him. “ Mary Smith.” 

“ I’m Williams. John Williams. You don’t 
imagine. Miss Smith, I could let you go home 
alone ? ” 

“ Please, I want to. I’d much rather.” 

“ But why ? ” 

She felt it was dangerous to be so insistent, lest 
she should arouse some suspicion in his mind. 
“ I’d like to be on my own. I’ve got to go some- 
where. Come part of the way with me, if you 
like.” 

“ All right.” He, too, felt it would be unwise to 
insist too much. “ You won’t tell me where you 
live ? I’d like to find out if you’re quite all right.” 

“ No,” she said fiercely. “ I said I’m all right.’J' 

“ I’m sorry. Miss Smith. Very well, then. I’ll 
be glad to see you part of the way home, if you’ll 
let me.” 

She took him across the Moltkebrucke some 
distance along Altmoabit. He talked of the latest 



THE PURSUER 


265 

films and shows and of the museums. She hardly 
answered. She had drawn back into herself again. 
“ And now,” she said, reaching out her hand 
stiffly, “ I think I’d best say good-bye, Mr. 
Williams. I thank you again.” The deadness was 
back in her voice again, the eyes were again 
remote and impersonal. 

“ Good-bye, Miss Smith. Look here, just one 
thing. I’m going to keep my eye open for you 
again. I hope you won’t mind.” 

She turned on her heel. “ Good-bye,” she said 
curtly. 


2 

He realised that he would himself have to be 
careful how he approached and left his flat. 
She was aware of him now. He must take care 
that she did not see him about the place before 
he thought the time had come for their second 
meeting. But when a few days had passed, he 
realised his caution was superfluous. She seemed 
to have fallen in upon herself since the episode 
of the bag-snatching. It was as if it had made 
her realise for the first time how depleted she 
was, what a poor shell of a woman her dreadful 
task had made her. She moved about to do her 
errands heavy-footed and heavy-eyed. He came 
up to her about ten days after their first meeting. 
He had followed her into the Tiergarten, to 



THE PURSUER 


266 

within a short distance of the Kroll Opera House. 

“ Oh hello, Miss Smith,” he called out. “ It 
is you ! I’ve been hoping to meet you one of 
these days ! ” 

“ Good-afternoon ! ” she said, and walked on. 

“ Oh no, you don’t ! I don’t think it’s at all 
kind of you ! ” He came up to her and was 
walking by her side. 

“ Won’t you go away ? ” she asked. She looked 
straight before her. She did not turn her head 
as she spoke. 

“ Listen, Miss Smith. I’m on my own. And 
you are. We’re both English. We ought to do 
something about it.” 

She made no reply. She moved on for another 
twenty or thirty yards. Then she became aware 
there was a park bench beside her, at her left 
hand. She felt suddenly she would fall if she 
did not sit down. She found he was sitting 
beside her. 

“ You’re not looking a bit well,” he said 
severely. “It strikes me you don’t look after 
yourself” 

She looked down at the gravel beneath her 
feet. Her lips trembled a little. 

“ What’s the matter ? ” he asked. “ Could I 
do something ? I wish you’d let me.” 

“ No, nothing,” she replied. “ You can’t do 
anything.” She extracted a handkerchief from 



THE PURSUER 


267 

her bag as if she was about to lift it to her eyes ; 
but she did not. She crumpled it up, tore at 
its ends nervously once or twice, then put it in 
the bag again. 

“ Look here ! ” He bent over towards her 
urgently. “ I’m fed up with Buddhas and 
Shivas and things ! I’m going to take a day off. 
Why don’t you ? Do you know the Nachmittags 
Kabarett ? Let’s go along for an hour or two. 
It’ll do us both good ! ” 

“ I can’t ! ” she complained feebly. “ I can’t ! ” 

“ Oh come ! ” He got hold of her arm quite 
roughly. “ Why shouldn’t you ? ” 

Why shouldn’t she ? Because she was tied hand 
and foot, and ear and mouth and eye. Because 
she was not a human being any longer, but a 
blind function. Because she was dead, she was 
not alive any longer. 

A sudden gust of profound self-pity seized her. 
Tears rose in her eyes and coursed down her 
cheeks. He looked at her sharply. 

“ Well ? ” he rapped out. 

She lowered her head. Her voice was so faint, 
he could hardly hear it. “ I’d like to go ! ” she 
whispered. 

“ Right ! We’ll get a taxi ! ” His voice was as 
matter-of-fact as a hotel clerk booking a room. 
But triumph beat in his heart like a strong wind. 



268 


THE PURSUER 


3 

They met each other once or twice a week 
at first, then they met every day. She did not 
ask herself whether she loved him. He became 
as necessary to her as the air she breathed, more 
necessary than food or drink, in which she had 
long lost all interest. 

She had been away one afternoon nearly 
three hours. When she came back, her father 
seized her by the shoulders. His face was death- 
pale in his anxiety and fright. “ Where have you 
been ? ” he cried. “ What right have you to be 
away all this time ? ” 

“ I wanted to be alone.” 

“ You wanted to be alone ? Do you think I’m 
a fool ? You’ve been with some man ! ” 

“ I haven’t ! ” 

“ Look me in the face ! You’ve been with 
some man ! ” 

She was silent. 

“ There ! ” he cried hysterically. “ Who is he ? 
What’s his name ? ” 

“ I’ve been alone ! ” 

“ Don’t lie to me ! I forbid you to see him 
again ! When you’ve done your shopping, you 
must come straight back ! Do you hear ? ” 
He shook her, “ Do you hear ? ” 

“ I’m tired and ill,” she said. “ If you talk 



THE PURSUER 


269 

to me like that, I won’t come back at all. I saw 
them take a girl’s body out of the Spree this 
morning. She was about my age.” 

He removed his hands from her shoulders as 
if flames were burning them. He slunk away 
towards his bedroom, hugging the wall. He 
uttered no word on the subject again that day 
or the next day. Then, the day after, he took 
her hand in his. “ If he asks you anything, don’t 
tell him, will you, Judy darling ? ” he pleaded 
tremulously. 

She turned her head away. The young man 
was her secret, hers alone. She would not share 
him. He had no existence for anyone in the 
world but her. Everything else but him she had 
abandoned. 

“ I don’t know what you’re talking about,” 
she said. 


4 

“ I am not in love with her,” said the young 
man to himself. “ I shouldn’t see her again, 
if I could get at him any other way than through 
her. But if there were any room for love inside 
me, I should love her. She is beautiful, and she 
is dying. There never was any human being as 
brave as she is. I mustn’t force her to speak. 
She’ll speak to me herself. She’s too weak now 



270 THE PURSUER 

to be able to bear her secret alone. In a week 
or two she’ll tell me. She’ll hardly know what 
she’s saying, or that she’s saying anything at 
all. But she’ll tell me. She’ll die if she does not. 
And when she does — what’ll happen then ? I 
don’t know. I don’t know. She mustn’t get in 
my way, though she’s dying, though she’s 
beautiful. Else I’ll have to kill her, too.” 


5 

It was in the pine- woods near the Wannsee 
she spoke to him at length. For a long time she 
lay against his breast, his arm round her. She 
did not move. The breath hardly seemed to 
enter and leave her lungs. Her cheeks were as 
pale as the wood-anemone. 

“ John,” she breathed. “ Listen to me ! ” 

“ Yes, Mary, I’m listening. I thought you’d 
fallen asleep.” 

“ I’m not strong enough not to say it. I love 
you. No, don’t say anything. I don’t know if 
you love me or not. I think you don’t.” 

“ Mary ” 

“ Please. It’s not about you and me I want 
to talk. It’s about someone else and me.” 

“ Someone — in Berlin ? ” 

“ I’ve got to tell you. If I didn’t love you, 
I’d not be able to tell you. But I’d die, I think.” 



THE PURSUER 271 

“ What are you talking about, Mary ? Are 

you ill ? ” 

“ Oh yes. But that doesn’t matter. Nothing 
can be done about that now ! ” 

“ Don’t talk nonsense ! ” There was anger in 
his voice. “ What do you mean nothing can be 
done now ? You must go to a doctor ! Berlin’s 
bad for you ! You must get away ! ” 

“ I can’t ! ” 

“ Oh can’t you ? And why ? Now listen ” 

“ Because of my father ! ” 

“ What ? Your father ? What’s he got to do 
with it ? ” 

" He’s in Berlin ! ” 

“ In Berlin ? Is he ? Why didn’t you tell me 
before ? ” 

“I’m not going to ask you not to tell anyone 
in the world what I’m going to tell you now. 
But I think you won’t.” 

“ What’s all this about, Mary ? Of course I 
won’t.” 

“ What is it all about, John ? I don’t know. 
You won’t believe me. But I tell you I don’t 
know. This is as much as I know.” 

So she told him what she knew to tell, and he 
knew of it little less than she did. When she 
finished speaking, she lay in his arms like a dead 
creature. He bent down and kissed her on the 
lips. “ There was never so brave a girl,” he 



THE PURSUER 


272 

murmured, “ in all the world. Or a man so 
wicked.” 


6 

About a fortnight later he determined that the 
moment had come for him to act. He must act 
for her sake, not his own. For himself, he could 
afford to wait. 

“ I want you to go and tell your father about 
me,” he said. “ Tell him we love each other, you 
and I. Tell him that to-morrow I’m coming back 
to the flat with you. I’m going to help you look 
after him from now on. Do you understand ? We 
share it all, from now on.” 

“ No, no ! ” she cried, wringing her hands. 
“ He’ll go mad with fright ! Not to-morrow ! 
Not to-morrow ! ” 

“ I’m doing it for your sake, not for his. 
You’re not going on another day like this. You’re 
more than half-dead already.” 

“ Not to-morrow ! Not to-morrow,” she moaned. 

“ All right. You can break it to him gently. 
Next week, if you like.” 


7 

A few days later she told her father she had 
fallen in love with a young English student she 



THE PURSUER 


273 

had met in Berlin. She expected him to storm 
and rage at her, but he did no such thing. He 
turned his head away and sighed. 

“ Why did you lie to me then ? ” he asked 
quietly. 

“ Because I was frightened.” 

“ Aren’t you frightened now ? ” 

“ No.” 

“ Why not ? ” 

“ The time has gone by for that.” 

“ What do you mean ? ” 

“ Don’t you know what I mean ? ” 

He remained silent. He did not turn his head. 
“ If John weren’t here to share things, I don’t 
suppose I’d last out much longer.” 

“ To share things ? What do you mean, Judy ? ” 
“ I can’t look after you alone, daddy. I must 
have his help.” 

“ What are you saying ? ” His voiee rose in a 
thin wailing. “ What are you saying ? ” 

“ He’s going to come here, daddy. I can’t keep 
it up without him.” 

He threw his head back and suddenly burst out 
laughing. His laughter became wilder and wilder. 
Tears poured down his cheeks. “ Oh Judy, Judy ! ” 
he cried, when he could at last speak at all. 
“ How funny you are ! How dreadfully, dread- 
fully funny ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! ” he began again. 
“ Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! ” 

Sp 



THE PURSUER 


274 

“ You’d best be careful ! ” she said coldly. 
“ That window’s open ! You’ll be heard ! ” 

The laughter went from his face like a breath 
from a mirror. He turned his head round 
anxiously. “You don’t think anyone heard, do 
you, Judy ? ” 

“ Perhaps not.” 

“ Close the window, Judy ! No, Judy, don’t ! 
What does it matter ? You say you’re going to let 
him come here, don’t you ? Tear those curtains 
off the rings, Judy ! Open the window wider. 
Tell them all I’m here, Judy ! Shout, shout, at the 
top of your voice ! Say your father’s a murderer ! 
Say he’s been hiding here all this time ! Say any- 
body can come and fetch him now ! 

“ Well, why don’t you ? Why don’t you, I ask ? 
What’s the matter with you, Judy ? Are you 
asleep ? Are you dead ? Get up, Judy, get up ! 
Let him come ! Well, why don’t you get up ? I 
tell you I don’t mind if he does come — as soon as 
you like ! Ah, there you are, Judy ! That’s better 
now ! Did you hear what I said ? I said I don’t 
mind if he does come ! I mean — if you’re quite 
sure he’s all right, are you ? Just tell me that, 
Judy ! Is he all right, Judy ? ” 

He stared into her eyes haggardly, waiting for 
her to speak. But she felt it was more than she 
could do even to breathe yes to him. She turned 
her head again. 



THE PURSUER 


275 

He got up from her side and left her, muttering 
querulously to himself. “ She ought to say he’s all 
right. She ought to say that, at least. It’s mean of 
her. I never thought she’d turn out like that.” 

8 

Four days later a young man stood beside Judy 
Wace as she turned the key in the lock of her flat. 
The woman who lived in the flat on the other 
side of the landing chanced to be coming out at 
that moment, and the sight astounded her. The 
grip of her shopping-basket slid from her fingers, 
and she stood there gaping for a full minute. 
The door had closed behind the couple before 
she had recovered her breath and turned towards 
the lift. And only in that moment the further 
awareness came to her that the human being with 
the Ausldnderin was not only a human being, but 
young and a male. She stood and marvelled for 
another minute. “ She is flesh and blood, after 
all ! ” she muttered to herself. “ Though there is 
little indeed of both ! ” So muttering and shaking 
her head, she let herself down in the lift. 


The door closed behind Judy and her com- 
panion. “ Put your hat and coat here, on this 
table ! ” murmured Judy. “ This way ! ” There 



THE PURSUER 


276 

was a door immediately opposite them. “ I’ll 
knock,” whispered Judy, “ though he’s sure to 
have heard us.” She knocked gently. There was 
no reply. She knocked again, more loudly. There 
wzis still no reply. Her heart fluttered with fright. 
Had anything happened to him ? Had his nerve 
failed him at this last moment ? 

She opened the door. Her father sat in his usual 
place, in the shadowed corner of the room, to the 
right of the window. “ Oh, there you are, 
daddy ! ” she said. “ Here’s John ! ” 

Her father did not rise. His eyes shone queerly 
across the room’s curtained twilight. She turned 
to the young man. “ Here’s my father, John ! 
Come in ! ” 

But he still stood on the further side of the 
threshold. He stood there swaying slightly. The 
whole room swayed towards him and dipped back 
again. The blood pulsed in his eyeballs. It 
seemed that his finger-nails extended from the 
tips of his fingers till they were long and sharp as 
a beast’s claws. The fingers stuck out rigidly 
before him, towards the throat of his abomina- 
tion, seen at last, within reach of the lusting 
fingers at last, after such vast journeys and such 
consummate patience. 

He moved one foot across the threshold. Had 
she said no word then and not come closer to him, 
he would one moment later have been sped upon 



THE PURSUER 


277 

his victim like a stone from a catapult. But her 
image arose between his eyes and the eyes of the 
hunched evil in the chair, an image of such forti- 
tude and sadness, that the tense fingers fell limply 
towards the palms of his hands, the red glare went 
out of the room. 

He came forward. He found it possible even to 
take the dank hand that came diffidently towards 
him out of the shadow. 

“ Poor Mr. Smith,” he murmured. “ It must 
have been frightful for you. You can rely on me.” 



CHAPTER XVIII 


I 

The arrangement was that the young man 
should come in for an hour or two a day, and 
sometimes longer, in the afternoon or evening. 
It was understood that he did his studies in the 
museum in the morning, and now and again 
went to classes or lectures. He brought his note- 
books with him. He could quite easily work up 
his notes, while Judy was getting on with things 
in the kitchen or doing her shopping. He and 
Wace often played chess. Wace was happy that 
he had somebody besides himself to play chess 
with. Judy had tried to learn, but she had never 
made much of a job of it. 

But it seemed that the young man had come too 
late. Judy did not gather strength from his pres- 
ence. Because someone was there to share the 
tension with her, she herself sagged and fell to 
pieces. From day to day she grew visibly frailer. 
Her cheeks fell in, her eyes smouldered with 
forlorn fires. A tiny dry cough awoke and 
wandered about in her chest and throat like a 
blind man who cannot find his way out from a 
maze of passages. 



THE PURSUER 


279 

It was the young man who insisted she must 
go to see a doctor. The old man had become deaf 
and blind to any ill condition not his own. She 
long resisted his importunacy, for she knew what 
a doctor would say. But when he threatened he 
would bring the doctor there, if she did not go to 
him, her father added his nervous entreaties, 
and she went. 

The doctor was extremely grave. He doubted 
whether even now there was anything she might 
do to prevent a sudden conflagration. One thing 
was certain. She was doomed if she stayed in 
Berlin, as surely doomed as any murderer in a 
death-cell. If she went southward to the moun- 
tains, it was possible she might recover. 

She declared that the pronouncement must be 
hidden from her father, for it was quite clearly 
impossible she should leave him. He pointed out 
wryly that when she died, they would not ask her 
whether she wanted to stay or go. He himself that 
evening told the old man what the doctor had 
said. Wace was furious. “ It’s nonsense ! ” he 
cried. “ The fellow’s a quack ! He doesn’t know 
what he’s talking about ! She ought to go and 
see a decent doctor ! ” 

She went to another doctor, whose verdict 
was at least as grave. “ You will leave for the 
mountains in two days,” the young man said 
quietly. “ You’ve learned how to move off 



THE PURSUER 


280 

from one place to another in less time than 
that.” 

She was awed and silent. She realised how 
futile it was to stand up and beat with such feeble 
fists at the strong doom that stood over her. 
“ How will I be able to get him away ? ” was all 
she asked. “ Do you think they’ll let him stay 
somewhere near me ? ” 

“You won’t need to get him away,” he said. 
“ What do you mean ? ” 

“ I’ll take over from you.” 

“ What ? But it’s impossible ! You can’t ! You 
don’t know what it’s like ! You can’t do it ! ” 

“ I think I can manage.” 

“ But why — why ? ” 

“ For your sake, Mary.” 

“John, I tell you you’ve no idea ” 

“ Hush, Mary, you mustn’t excite yourself. I’d 
already made up my mind, days and days ago. 
The very first moment I set eyes on him.” 

“ Oh, John, I won’t mind dying now ! I’ll be 
thinking of you and it won’t matter at all ! ” 
“You mustn’t talk like that ! ” he said sternly. 
“You mustn’t think like that ! Do you hear ? 
Promise me ! ” 

She sobbed quietly for minute upon minute. 
He could get no promise from her. 



THE PURSUER 


281 


2 

The office that looked after the flats was in- 
formed that a young countryman of the recent 
tenant had taken over the flat from her. The 
neighbours on the other side of the landing were 
aware of no more than that one solitary had taken 
the place of another. The young woman was very 
sick. Clearly it was not likely she would come 
back again. 

He fulfilled the duty he had undertaken with 
scrupulous loyalty. He abandoned his pretence of 
frequenting the museums and lecture-classes, for 
the care of old Wace became more and more 
exacting. At first they played a great deal of chess, 
but that fell out, for the old man’s wits became 
more unsteady as the months went on. He was 
hardly aware of it, even when the young man 
switched the wireless music on ; he seemed to 
sink deeper and deeper into his own thoughts. 
Now and again, however, he seemed to regain 
some measure of intelligence. He would sit con- 
templating his daughter’s lover with an almost 
ironic detachment. 

“ What are you doing this for, John ? It’s more 
than any human being can ask from another.” 

“ Even a father from his daughter ? ” the other 
asked gently. 

“ I don’t know, I don’t know.” The old man 



282 


THE PURSUER 


shook his head dubiously. “ But you haven’t 
answered me, John. What are you doing this 
for ? ” 

“ Because Mary would have died in this room 
if I hadn’t done it.” 

“ Is it fair to yourself? ” 

“ I’m quite happy.” 

“ Are you ? ” Wace looked up oddly from 
under his pale eyelids. 

" Yes, I’m quite happy.” 


3 

The temptation that had come to him the 
moment he had first set eyes on the old man, 
came to him only once again. That was when he 
came back from the station where he had put 
Judy on the south-going train. They were alone, 
completely alone. The temptation came and 
went. Steadily and dispassionately he regarded 
the issue. Here and now he might consummate 
the pursuit, or he might postpone the consumma- 
tion from month to delicious month. He was, in 
fact, happy, infinitely happier than the bemused 
old man had any idea of. He decided he would 
wait. 

The months did not drag for him. The exqui- 
siteness of the punishment he was perpetuating 



THE PURSUER 


283 

suspended them in a void of crystal hallucina- 
tion. The old man was dying. It became the 
young man’s devotion and delight to seek to 
postpone the release until Death would be denied 
not a moment longer. 

The day and the hour came at length. The 
young man sat by the old man’s bedside, leaning 
forward towards him, his lips slightly parted. The 
old man was propped on his pillow, with the 
shadow about him. The evening light fell full on 
the young man’s face. 

No word had been spoken for an hour or more. 
The old man had not the strength to speak. The 
young man’s heart brimmed with the happiness 
that transcends speech. A smile came to his 
lips. 

They looked into each other’s eyes thus for 
some time, the young man blissful in his 
triumph, the old man troubled by a dim 
speculation. 

I have seen that smile before. Where have I seen lips 
like those smiling that smile before ? 

Long ago. Long ago. There was a small 
boy running down a street in Doomington. 
There was another small boy running after 
him. There was a smile on the pursuer’s 
face. 

The smile of the small boy and the young man 
are the same smile. The small boy and the young 



THE PURSUER 


284 

man are both the pursuer. He has caught up to 
me at length. 

Has he caught up to me ? Is it he, or Death, 
that has caught up to me ? Is the triumph to 
Death or to him ? 

The clairvoyance of Death was on the old man. 
He spoke, with an access of strength drawn from 
some unsuspectable reserve. The other did not 
speak in answer. He smiled. The unchanging 
smile was answer enough. 

“ You are his son ? ” 

res. 

“ Surely I did something worse than kill him 
that you hounded me so ? ” 

Tes. 

“ What then ? I blinded him ? ” 

res. 

“ And for that reason I was to lose not 
only my eyes, but my touch, my hearing, 
all my senses in the tomb where you chained 
me ? ” 

The smile was like the smile on the lips of 
a bronze image, sardonic and amused and 
delicate. 

“ Does he wish to send his love to me ? ” 

res. 

“ Tell him I would not have his love even at 
the end. Will you ? ” 



THE. PURSUER 285 

The head of the old man fell to one side. He 
was dead. 

The young man rose from his chair by the bed- 
side. / must go to the mountains soon. Perhaps it will 
not be too late. 


THE END